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CIS •ir^?,y. .7 (1) 





*^* Limited Edition, eleven butuired copies, 
printed from type. 










1)5 H^ilfl 






DEC 15 1955 

Copyright, 1891, by 






In preparing his sketcli of Patrick Henry, Will- 
iam Wirt, his first biographer, admits that the ma- 
terials he had been able to collect were ^^ scanty and 
meagre, and utterly disproportionate to the great 
fame of Mr. Henry." The author of these volumes 
can make no such excuse for their deficiencies. He 
has had access to nearly all of the material used 
by Mr. Wirt, including most of the communications 
received from the contemporaries of Mr. Henry, 
which have been kindly furnished by Dr. William 
Wirt ; and to a mass of matter which it was not 
the good fortune of Mr. Wirt to examine. A most 
important part of this additional matter consists of 
the private papers of Mr. Henry, left at Red HiU, 
which came into the possession of his youngest son, 
John Henry, the father of the author. To these, 
fortunately, has been added a considerable corre- 
spondence, gathered from different quarters, which, 
though far from being complete, throws a flood of 
light on Mr. Henry's career, and is of great value in 
estimating the part he bore in the American Revolu- 
tion, and the important period that followed it. 

The coiTespondence and works of his contempo- 
raries, published within this century, have also 
added greatly to the material for a life of Patrick 

Henry. Among these should be epecially men- 
tioned the letters of George Washington, Richard 
Henry Lee, Thomas JefEerson, and James Madison, 
and the diary of John Adams during the Congress 
of 1774. In the State Department at Washington, 
among the papers of Washington and of the Con- 
tinental Congress, many letters of Patrick Henry 
have been found which have never been printed, and 
many more have been discovered among the Execu- 
tive and Legislative papers preserved at the Capitol 
at Richmond. In addition, access has been had to 
the Executive journal kept dnriing nearly all of . 
Mr. Henry's service of five years as Governor, and 
to his Executive letter-book after the Revolution, 
from which a few letters have been copied. The 
missing volumes were destroyed, or carried away, 
during the raid of Arnold in 1781. The author 
has also been fortunate in finding, in print or in 
MS., the journals of nearly every session of the 
deliberative bodies in which Mr. Henry served, and 
the legislative papers of the House of Delegates of 
Virginia, from the commencement of its existence 
as a State in 1776. 

In using the material thus put at his command 
he has been greatly aided by the admirable volume 
of Dr. Moses Coit Tyler on Patrick Henry, which 
appeared while this work was in preparation. 

In collecting the correspondence of Mr. Henry 
the author has been imder obligations to a number 
of persons who have sent him copies of original 
letters in their possession. Among these he would 
mention Hon. Lyman C. Draper, of Wisconsin ; 
Mm. Susan Bullitt Dixon, of Kentucky ; Colonel 


Charles G. Janes, of Georgia; Professor William 
Winston Fountaine, of Texas ; Z. T. HoUingsworth, 
of Boston ; John B. Thacher, of Albany ; Dr. Tho- 
mas Addis Emmet, D. McN. StaufPer, and William 
'EL Benjamin, of New York ; F. D. Stone, A. Gratz, 
Charles Roberts, and John W. Jordan, of Philadel- 
phia ; Beverend L Edwards, of Plymouth, Pa., and 
H<m. L Stamford Raffles, of Liverpool, England. 
fie wotdd also acknowledge his indebtedness to Miss 
Elate Mason Rowland, of Baltimore, who, from her 
collection of material for a Life of George Mason, 
has fnmished him with valnable papers. From 
tile gentlemen in charge of the MSS., in Wash- 
ii^ton and Richmond, he has met with the most 
courteoits assistance. He would here express his 
tiutnks, not only for the aid extended him in col- 
lecting material for his work, but for the expres* 
sions of interest in it which have reached him from 
so many quarters. 

The task of the author has been performed in 
the midst of exacting professional engagements, 
and under the disadvantage of inexperienced au- 
thorship. He is aware that he has not done justice 
to his subject, but he trusts that the material he 
has been able to gather will enable the world to 
form a more just estimate of the character and 
genius of Patrick Henry, and of his great services 
to his country. 

William Wirt Henry. 

BiCHXOim, Va. 



PABENTAOE — EARLT LIFE. — 1736-1760 1 

Parentage. — WinHloas, Henrya, HobertsonB. — Fatriok 
Henry's Birtb, Youth, Education. — Influeaco of Rev. 
Bamuel Dovies on Him,.— Mercantile Life,— Marriage.— 
Life as a Fanner and Merchant, — Btndies Law. — Obtains 
Lioenae to Fi&ctise, 


PBOFE88IOKAL LIFB. — 1760-1764 24 

Begins Fnotiee of Lav in Fall of 1760.— His Fee Booka 
Proaerred. — I^rge Fraotioe from the Beginning of His 
ProfeHiontl Life. — The "Parson's Ganse." — Events Lead- 
ing to It and Isanes InvolTed in It. — Hr. Henry's Appear- 
ance in It.— First Exliibitioa of His Qenios as an Orator. — 
Large Increase of His Practice.- His Appearance in WiU- 
iamsbarg in the Contested Election Oase of Dandridge vn. 
Littlepoge— Pnicbase of a Farm in Lonisa Connty. — 
Jndge I^ons's Acoonnt of His Manner at the Bar. 



Ganse of Troubles between England and the American 
Colonies. — Charter Bights. — Local Govemmenta. — Virginia 
Early Claims the Sole Bight to Tax Herself.- Commercial 
Bestrictions. —Colonial Government in England. — JAtn of 
Trade. — Power of Parliament. — ^Effort at Union in 1764. — 
Defeat of Plans.— James Otis and Writs of Search.- Wat 
between England and France. — Peace of Paris in 1768, 



and Immense Territory Secured to England in America. — 
Joy in America. — Taxation of America Propoeed in Parlia- 
ment. — Parties Created by It — ^Protest against It — The 
Stamp Act— Its Beception in America. — Submission Ex- 
pected and Prepared for in the Colonies. — ^Whai would 
have been its Effect. 



ACT.— 1765 ■; 

Election of Mr. Henry to the House of Burgesses. — 
Character of the House. — Lower Counties and Upper Coun- 
ties. — Characteristics of the People. — ^Proposition to make 
a Public Loan to Believe Individual Embarrassments. — 
Eloquent Speech of Mr. Henry in Opposition. — Besolu- 
tions against the Stamp Act Introduced by Mr. Henxy, 
May 29, 1765, and Carried against the Opposition of the 
Old Leaders. — Mr. Jefferson's Account of the Debate. — 
Accounts of Governor Fauquier and Bev. William Bobin- 
son. — Contemporaneous Evidence Concerning the Number 
of Besolutions Offered and PiMsed. — ^Leadership of the Col- 
ony accorded Mr. Henry as a Consequence of His Action. — 
Effect of His Besolves on the Colonies. — ^Besistanoe to the 
Execution of the Act. — Stamp Act Congress. — ^Mr. Henry's 
Fama — ^He Gave the Initial Impulse to the Be volution. 



Change in the British Ministiy. — ^Bepeal of the Stamp Act 
with Claim of Power in Parliament over Colonies. — Joy 
in England and America. — ^The New Assembly. — ^Division 
of Office of Speaker and Treasurer. — ^Friendship of Bichard 
Henry Lee and Mr. Henry. — ^Acts for Additional Taxation 
on Importation of Slaves, and for Believing Quakers from 
Militai^ Service. — ^Fragment of a Pftper by Mr. Henry. — 
Persecution of Baptist Ministers. — Mr. Henry Enlists in 
their Defence. — ^His Success at the Bar. — Practises in the 
General Court. — His Power over Juries. — ^Description of 
Him as He Appeared in the (General Court, Given by 
Judge St. George Tucker. 


• •• 



Mm JEW JED TBOI7BLB8 WITH XVGLAHB. — ^1766-1778 128 

Betotmiiuilion of British QoremiiMiit to Exeieiae the 
Biglit of Tuuitioa in the Goloniei.--BiUetiiig Bill, vad 
Port DatieB on Wine» Oil* ^e.— Diaoiifldon of American 
Bii^ts hj Able Writers thzoogh the Fzen.— Letter of 
TifsimsflTmsetts AssemUj in 17d8 to the CSolonieSi on their 
Bi|^t8» dimwn hj SsmndL Adams. — ^The Aetion ot the Vir- 
ginia Assemb^.— Ife. Hemy as a Leader.— Address of Pluv 
Mament to Xing Oonoerning AM of Amerieuis in Snglaad. 
—Attamipls to Bepftrate other CMonies from Massaohnaetts, 
— Tliginin Deteimbies to Make Common Oanse with Her. 
— -Hoii-iBipeirtition Agraement Entered into hy Yirginians 
and other Ckdi»iiists.—])liBealties of the Ministiy, and 0e- 
tiwmtnaliciin to Bepeal Dntj Act^ Exeept as to Tea.— Popn- 
laiity of Losd Bdetonrt as GoTemor,— Indian Troubles. 

PgopoBod Lines between HbB Whites and the Lidians.--* 
AgMensntnot to Use Tee, and Committees in Goontiesio 
Enio se e Agreement.- !&• Heniyas e Committee Man.— 
I>ealih of Lord Botetourt— Lord Donmore Bneoeeds Him 
as Governor. — New A s s e mM jy . — Protests against Slave 
Trada— Mr. Henxy on Slsvezy. 



Attempt to Govern bj Bojal Instmotions. — ^Act for Se- 
curing Dockyards, Ships, and Stores. — Affiur of the Ckts- 
pee. — ^Inqniiy into it by a Commission with Secret Orders. 
— ^Death of Colonel John Henrj. — 'Sew Assembly. — Rebuke 
to the Ckyremor for Disregard of the Criminal Laws. — ^Law 
Against Counterfeiting. — ^Acts for Litemal Improyement 
— Committees of Correspondence Advised, and One Ap- 
pointed for Virginia. — Incidents Relating to the Besolu- 
tions» and Mr. Henry's Part in Them. — Judge Tuoker*s 
Aooount of Mr. Henry in this Assembly. — Hearty Response 
of the Other Colonies to the Proposal of Virginia, as Tend- 
ing to Union. — ^What was the Honor Due to Virginia in 
this Regard? — Effect upon the Ministry. — ^Adjournment of 
the Rhode Island Commission. — ^Embarrassment of the 
East India Company. ^Act for Their Relief. — ^Duty on Tea 




Shipped to America Arouses Opposition. — ^The Consignees 
in Three Ports Forced to Resign. — ^At Boston the Tea 
Thrown Orerboard bj Disguised Men. — ^Bage of the Minis- 
try. — Bill to Close the Port of Boston. 



Meeting of House of Burgesses, May, 1774.— Trouble 
with Indians and Pennsjlyania. — Refusal of House to 
Raise Reg^ular Troops.— Clonsultation of Patriots About 
Political AfBedrs. — Boston Port Bill Arrives. — ^Notice Taken 
of It. — ^Dissolution of the House. — ^Action of Members 
Afterward. — ^Non-importation and Annual Congress Recom- 
mended, with Delegates to be Elected bja Convention. 
— ^Mr. Henry the Leader in the Measures. — Splendid Trib- 
ute to Him by Oeorge Mason. — ^Tributes to Virginia by 
other Colonies. — ^Effect of the Fast Day Recommended. — 
Tyrannous Acts of Parliament in Reference to Massachu- 
setts and the Colonies. — Oeneral Gkige Sent with Four 
Regiments to Enforce Them. — Firmness of the People.— 
Instructions of Hanover County to Patrick Henry and John 
Syme, Delegates to the Convention. — Commercial Non- 
intercourse Relied on for Redress of Grievances. — Boston 
Fed by the Patriots. — ^Virginia Convention. — ^Delegates to 
Congress. — ^Instructions to Them. 



New Assembly Ordered. — Same Members Returned. — 
Prorogued till November. — Governor Heads an Expedition 
against the Indians on the Ohio. — Battle of Point Pleasant. 
— Treaty with the Indians. — ^Resolutions of Officers to Offer 
Their Swords in Defence of American Liberty. — ^Dunmore 
Rebuked by Oovemment, which did not Wish to Extend 
Settlements Westward. — Mr. Henry*s Forecast of the Re- 
sult of the Struggle Going on with England. — Sketch of 
Him at this Period by Edmund Randolph. — Entertained 
at Mount Vernon on His Way to Philadelphia. — Arrival 
with Washington and Pendleton. — Cordial Reception. — 

Oharacter ol the OoDgress, — Some of Its Principal Cliarac- 
ten.—The Qreat BepaUtion with nhiah He Took His 


meeting of Congress,— Mr. Henry Opena its Diacusaiona. 
— Qnestion of BepreBcntation. — Work of the Coagresa. — 
FropDKol of JoBeph Galloway Opposed by Mr. Henry, wlio 
Declares He Expeots Their Meaanres to Lead to War.— 
Virginia Leads the Oongresa. — Mr. Henry and B. H. Lee 
on Nearly All the Committcea.— The Addreasea Put Forth 
by the Body.^Mr. Heury'a Want of Confidence in Their 
Effect. — Their Impression in America and England. — Their 
Authorship. — Impressions Mada by Mr. Henry on tlie Body. 
— Hia Eatiniate of John Entledge and George Washington. 


ASMJSa THS OOLONT. — 1774-1775 218 

Xiettei of Fatiiok Henry's Mother. — Gondnot of GoTomor 
Dnnmore. — Hanorer County, under the Influence of Fat- 
rick Hen:^, tieads in Adopting the Association, and Ap- 
pointing a Oommittee to Enforce It. — Virginia Aids in 
Supporting the People of Boston. — HanoTer Volunteers 
Enlisted. — Effect of Uie Addresses of Congress in England. 
— Second Virginia Convention.— Patrick Henry Moves to 
Arm the Colony.— His Eloquent Speech in Support of His 
Motion.— Acoonnts Given by Edmund Bondolph, John 
Tyler, and St George Tncker. — Description by a Baptist 
Clergyman. — By John Boane.— By Thomas Marshall.— 
Proceedings in Parliament. — Ordinances of the Virginia 



1775 ... 276 

Seizure of the Gmipowder at WilliamsbuTg by Governor 
I>immore. — March of Mr. Henry at the Head of the Hanover 
Volnnteeis to Obtain Satisfaotion.- Payment Made to Him 


by Order of the Govemor. — ^Proclamfttion of the Gk>Texnor 
AgainBt Him. — He is Oondemned by the Conncil, bat 
Applauded by the People in County Meetings. — His Let- 
ter to Francis L. Lee on the Subject. — He is Escorted 
Across the Potomac on His Way to Congress. — Mr. Henry 
Looking to Independence. — Congress of 1775. — ^New Mem- 
bers. — Difficulties Besetting It — Determines to Act on 
Defensive. — ^Rejects Lord North's Proposals. — ^Determines 
to Fortify the Hudson and Adopt the Army before Boston. 
— ^Washin£^n made Commander-in-Chief. — Other Officers. 
— Measures of Congress. — ^Papers Issued. — Mr. Henry as a 
Committee Man.— His Letter to Oeneral Washington. 



Virginia Biflemen Sent to Boston. — ^Meeting of the As- 
sembly. — Difficulties with Goyemor Dunmore. — His Flight. 
— ^Demand of Hanover Presbytery for Beligious Liberty. — 
Meeting of Third Convention. — Qeorge Mason a Member. 
— Troops Ordered to be Baised. — Patrick Henry Made 
Colonel of the First Beg^ent and Commander of Virginia 
Forces. — Committee of Safety Appointed. — Address of Con- 
vention. — ^Enthusiastic Beoeption of Colonel Henry by His 
Troops. — ^The Colonies Declared to be in a State of Be- 
bellion. — ^War Upon Virginia by Dunmore. — ^The Com- 
mittee of Safety Prevent Colonel Henry from Taking the 
Field.— Battle of Great Bridge. — Meeting of Elizabeth 
Henry and William Campbell. 



Convention of December, 1775. — ^War Measures. — ^Treat- 
ment of Colonel Henry by the Committee of Safety. — 
Colonel Woodford Befuses to Beport to Him. — Scope of 
Colonel Henry*s Commission. — ^The Question Left to the 
Committee of Safety. — Its Compromise. — ^Virginia Troops 
Transferred to Congress. — New Commission Oflfored 
Colonel Henry, Lowering His Bank. — ^He Befuses to Ac- 
cept It.— Excitement Produced by His Action. — His Course 





Ajigtoocted hj Hb <MiM» and Ifw.'-PtlilioalioM Ir IImi 



BitteneM of Hhe iQng. — Debates in Pailii|meiit on 
American AfUn^—FIrmnefla of the Friends of Amerioa.— * 
TindietivendM of the Administration.— Effeet in Amecioa. 
— Efidenee thai indepsiidenoe had not heen ri^ffiajiijy 
Deaiied.— -Alleged MsflhlenliDig ]>eelamti<m.— Ohamiilft 
Amevioon Bentiment as to IndependeBce.--Dif^iidlie» il 
tiie Wi^.p-Oongfeas Hampezed.— The People ci Yfrgiaii 
Beekre for IndspeflKlenee.-''-Clbariotte Ocmnty Inetnratisiii^ 
-*A]1 li^es Tvaed npoB Bittiok Heniy.— IMtem to WsL 


TIBGEDTUL OOIM V JUf nOir.---Uf J>lCIVN'lMUI01fi. — ^1776* • • 887 

Ghaiacter of Membem. — James Madison and Edmnnd 
Randolph Enter Public Life. — Patrick Henry Leads the 
Convention. — ^Arranges for General Thomas Nelson to Move 
Independence. — Supports the Besolntion with Overpower- 
ing Eloquence. — Histoiy of the Motiou in the Conyention. 
— Opposition of Bobert Garter Nicholas. — Public Demon- 
stnitions of Joy by the Army, and People of Williamsburg. 
— Hearty Approval Throughout America. — ^The Virginia 
Beeolutions in Congress. — ^Declaration of Independence. — 
Articles of Confederation. 



Power of Convention to Frame a Constitution. — A Writ- 
ien Constitution Determined on. — ^Patrick Heniy's Views. 
— Correspondence with John Adams. — Plan of Adams Ap- 
proved by B. H. Lee and Patrick Henry.— Draft of Bill of 
Bights by George Mason. — ^Patrick Henry*s Part in Per- 
fecting It. — ^Analysis of the Bill of Bights.— Sources from 


Whence Beriyed. — ^ImxK>rtant Seotions Proposed bj Pat- 
rick Henry. — ^He Inserts the Principle of Religions Liberty. 
— ^Mason's Plan of a Gonstitntion. — Gompared with Adams' 
Plan, and the Instroment Adopted. — Proposals of Patriek 
Henry. — ^Plan of Mr. Jefferson. 



Election of Patrick Henry as Governor. — Letter of Ac- 
ceptance. — ^Important Ordinances of the Gonvention. — Sick- 
ness of Governor Henry. — ^Address of Gongratnlations to 
Him by the First and Second Virginia Begiments. — Similar 
Address by the Baptist Association. — Beplies of Goyemor 
Henry. — ^Importance of the Period at which He Entered 
npon His Office. — ^Evidence of His Great Executive Abili- 
ties Afforded by the JonmaL — State of the War in Virginia. 
— Dnnmore Driven Away. — ^Indian War on the Western 
Border. — ^Expedition Under Colonel William Christian. — 
Bichard Henderson's Purchase from the Indians. — His 
Claims to Kentucky. — First Appearance of George Bogers 
Clark in Kentucky. — ^His Visit to Governor Henry. — Aid 
Extended Him for Kentucky. 



Onerous Duties Devolved on the Executive. — Needs and 
Perils of the Stata — Correspondence with Washington. — 
Creation of a Virginia Navy. — Its Great Services and Hero- 
ism. — ^Mtmitions of War Supplied. — Troops Furnished the 
Continental Army. — ^Arrangements to Obtain Intelligence 
from the Army. — ^Eiffect of Declaration of Independence in 
England. — Caonpaign in America. — ^Betreat through New 
Jersey. — Beduced Condition of Washing^n's Army. — 
Battles of Trenton and Princeton. — ^Virginia Assembly. — 
Its Important Work. — ^Beligious Liberty. — Alarm at Be- 
verses at the North. — ^Enlarges Powers of Governor. — ^Al- 
leged Scheme for a Dictatorship. 



Be-enHfteMol ofYiiginift TnHypB.-^JHOienMm BeaMng 
the £ze0ati?8»— Efforts of Qoremor Henij to Eill up Yir- 
ginia's Quota of IVoops.-— CoixeBpoiidonoe with Lee and 
WMhingtoiL— A Dxsft Oidered. — Indian Hostilities.-* 
Biitish Snbjeete Sent Oat of Yizginia.— Meeting of As- 
samblj.— Oofilldential Letter of Washington to the Ooror- 
nor. — Aots id the AsBemblj.— Unanimoos Be-eleotion oi 
IMriek Heniy as Goremor.— Attaek upon Biehaid Heuj 
Lee in the AsMml^.— *HIb Trinmphant Vlndieation.— Oor- 
cmor Henry Ylsits HIb Homoi andAzxanges for His See- 

oovttsoB €(9 rmmsuL — sboohd tsbm. — 1777 527 

Tlgorons Measores of British Ministry.— -Fhui of Oun- 
pilgn.— Battle of Saratoga.— Battle <rf Brs9d7wine.—Oooa- 
pttion of Philadelphia. •— Treaty with France.— Effect in 
Gngland. — ^Death of the Earl of Chatham. — Serious Effect 
m America of the Depreciation of the Onrrency. — ^Procla- 
mation of Governor Henry. — ^His Effort to Sustain Public 
Credit. — ^To Becruit the Army. — ^To Protect the Coast — 
Correspondence with Washington. — ^Attempt to Engage 
Qoyemor Heniy in Plot to Supersede Washing^n. — His 
Patriotic Conduct. 



Distressing Condition of the Army. — ^Exertions of Gover- 
:^or Henry to Belieye It. — ^His Letter to Congress.— Alarm- 
&g Letter from General Washing^n. — Goyemor Henry^s 
^Efficient Action Believes the Army at Valley Forge, and 
l?revents It from Disbanding. — Important Action of Con- 
gress in Aid of the Army. — Arrival of the French Minis- 
ter and British Commissioners. — Attempt to Defeat the 
French Treaty. — Strong Feeling of Governor Henry. — Let- 
ter to Bichard Henry Lee. — Congress Declines the British 



Proposals. — Attempt of Commissioners to Oommonicate 
with Virginia Foiled. — The Aid of France Indispensable 
to American Success. — ^Indian Troubles. — ^Murder of Corn- 
stalk. — Action of Governor Heniy in Consequence. — ^Re- 
taliation by the Indians. — ^Proposed Expedition Against 



British Occupation of the Northwest. — Plan of George 
Bogers Clark to Attack their Forts. — Approved by Gover- 
nor Henry. — ^Arrangements Made and Instructions Given 
by Him. — ^Force Enlisted by Clark. — His Brilliant Cam- 
paign. — Difficulties Surrounding His Occupation of the 
Coflntiy. — Governor Henry's Foresight as to the Missis- 
sippi and the St. Lawrence Bivers. — Clark's Attack upon 
St. Vincent's.— Capture of Governor Hamilton. — ^Manage- 
ment of the Indians. — ^Failure of Be-enforcements from Ken- 
tucky. — Important Services of Oliver Pollock in Aid of 



Expedition of Colonel David Bogers to the Lower Mis- 
sissippi — Stores sent by Spain to New Orleans for Virginia. 
— ^Instructions to Colonel Bogers. — ^Experiences of Colonel 
Bogers and His Men. — ^Disturbances in Virginia by Tories. 
— Josiah Phillips and His Band. — Action of Governor 
Henry and of the Legislature in Beference to Them. — 
British and Quaker Prisoners sent to Virginia. — ^Foreign 
Officers Seeking Employment — The Governor Obtains 
Munitions of War and Loans from Europe. — James Madi- 
son in the Council. — Second Marriage of Governor Heniy. 
— ^His Estate. — ^His Purchase of Lands in Henry County. — 
Third Election as Governor. 





Parentage. — Winatons, Hemys, Bobertsons. — ^Patrick Henry's Birth 
Youth, Education. — Influence of Bev. Samuel Dayies on Him. — 
Mercantile Life. — Marriage. — Life as a Farmer and Merchant. 
— Studies Law. — Obtains license to Practise. 

Within the first quarter of the eighteenth century, 
three brothers of the ancient and honorable family 
of Winston, of Yorkshire, England,^ emigrated from 
Wales to the Colony of Virginia. They were 
named William, Isaac, and James, and from them 
have descended a numerous posterity, which has em- 
braced many of the most distinguished of American 
citizens. Isaac Winston mamed Mary Dabney and 
resided in the County of Hanover. Among their 
children was a daughter, Sarah, who married Col- 
onel John Syme, and lived in the same county. 

There also emigrated to Virginia, some time prior 
to 1730, John Henry, the son of Alexander Henry 
and Jean Robertson, of Aberdeen, Scotland. John 
Henry was a friend of Robert Dinwiddie, who be- 
came Governor of Virginia in 1752, and it is said 

* The Dake of Marlborough was descended from the Gloucestershire 
branch of the family. 


brought a letter of introduction from him to Colonel 
John Syme.^ It is very probable that the families 
were at this time connected in Scotland, and that 
this fact caused John Henry to make his way to 
Hanover on his arrival in Virginia. However this 
may be, it is certain that he soon became domesti- 
cated in the family of Colonel Syme. 

The author is indebted to Sir Mitchell Henry, of 
Kylemore Castle, Galway, Ireland, for years a dis- 
tinguished member of Parliament, for some account 
of the Henry family of Scotland. He writes : "Al- 
though the recent Henrys are of Scotch extraction, 
the family was originally Norman, and will be 
found in the Livre des Conqu6rants of William the 
Conqueror ; and in Brittany there are many Henrys, 
(not Henri) still remaining. Some of the Henrys 
after the Conquest settled in England, and some 
went north to Scotland, and are to be found in 1158 
in Hampshire, Bedfordshire, and Surrey, among the 
latter in 1196, Alexander filius Henrici. I have lit- 
tle doubt that if anyone would take the trouble to 
do it, a very complete history of the family name 
could be traced, as their names occur in the roll of 
Battle Abbey, and in Domesday Book, and in the 
Great Rolls of the Pipe, 1153." Of his own family 
he writes: "The branch from which I descended 
came from Scotland to Ireland in the year 1616, at 
the plantation of Ulster, and settled as substantial 
yeomen at Loughbrickland, County Down, which 
they still possess. The names of Alexander, Pat- 
rick, Archibald, and Hugh were common with them. 
There are other Henrys in Ireland, who have a peli- 
can as coat of arms, of whom Hugh Henry, of Straf - 

» Wirt'a Life of Patrick Henry, 20, edition of 1836. 


ftui, was the representatdve, and married into the 
family of the Doke of Leicester. The late Sir 
Thomas Henry, the chief magistrate of London, 
lately dead, was a Henry professing the Boman Cath- 
olic religion, and the son of William Henry, of Dub- 
lin, who was employed in a romantic attempt to res- 
cue Marie Antoinette from prison and the scaffold."^ 

John Henry, the emigrant, was second cousin to 
David Etenry, who, leaving Scotland for London at 
the age of fourteen, became a journeyman printer in 
the same office with Benjamin Franklin, and after- 
ward married the sister of Edward Gave, the foun- 
der of the ^ Gentleman's Magazine." He was for 
more than ftfty years an associate editor of that val- 
uable publication, and was an accomplished scholar 
and writer. David Henry described his Henry Idn 
in Scotland as ^ more respected for their good sense 
and superior education than for their riches ; as at 
every neighboring meeting of gentlemen they were 
among the foremost." * 

Jean Robertson, the mother of John Henry, was a 
sister of Rev. William Robertson, the father of Dr. 
William Robertson, the distinguished scholar, his- 
torian, and divine.' One of the sisters of Dr. Rob- 
ertson married a Syme, doubtless a relation of Col- 
onel John Syme, of Virginia. She was the mother 
of Eleanor Syme, the mother of Henry Brougham, 
who considered himself indebted to her for his tal- 
ents.* The Robertsons were descendants of the 
Duncans of Scotland, and William Robertson was 
said to have had the blood of John Knox in his 

1 MS. letter dated September 21, 1876. ' ** Gentleman's Magazine.'' 
' She is sometimes represented as a sister of Dr. Robertson, but the 
dites of birth of his sisters disprove this. 
* life and Times of Lord Broagham, written by himself, i., 17. 


veins.^ Donald, a younger brother of Jean Robert- 
son, emigrated to Virginia, and conducted a classi- 
cal school in King and Queen County, at which 
James Madison was prepared for Princeton College. 
Madison referred to him in after-life as his " learned 
teacher." ' Donald Robeiiison was related to the 
late learned Chief-Justice of Kentucky, George 

John Henry was a man of classical education. 
The Rev. Samuel Davies, himself a finished classical 
scholar, describes him as a man more familiar with 
his Horace than with his Bible.' He was by no 
means deficient, however, in his knowledge of the 
latter, as is abundantly shown by a letter to his 
brother, the Rev. Patrick Henry, which has been 
preserved. In it he refers to a discussion going on 
between himself. Colonel Richard Bland, and Com- 
missary Blair upon the doctrine of eternal punish- 
ment, which he defends by a critical examination of 
the Greek text of the New Testament.* He is de- 
scribed by his acquaintances as a man of plain but 
solid understanding, a zealous member of the Estab- 
lished Church, and warmly attached to the reigning 
family. He led a life of irreproachable integrity 
and exemplaiy piety, and won the full confidence of 
the community in which he lived. He filled the 
offices of county surveyor and presiding magistrate 
of the county of Hanover, and was colonel of its 
regiment of militia. As their commanding officer he 
convened the militia at the Court House, and cele- 
brated the coronation of George the Third by mak- 

> Life and Times of Lord Brougham, written by himself, L, 82. 

< Rives's Madison, L , 10. ' Grigsb/s Viiginia ConTention of 1776, 145. 

« •« ETangelioal Magwdne,'' iii., 173. 


ing them perform a number of evolutions, and burn 
a quantity of gunpowder, little dreaming that a aon 
of his would be instrumental in separating America 
from his Majesty's dominions. 

Colonel John Syme died in the year 1731, as 
near as can be ascertained, leaving one child, a son, 
and a most attractive widow, who has been so well 
described by Colonel William Kyrd, of Westover, 
that the passage may well be transcribed. In his 
" Progress to the Mines," under date of October 7, 
1732, he writes; _ 

**Jn ti» eveau^ l^asley oondnoted me to Un^ 
Syme's hoiue, where I intended to take up my 
quarters. This lady, at first suspecting I was some 
lover, pat on a gravity which becomes a weed, but 
so soon aa she Teamed who I wafi, brightened up 
into an unusual cheerfnlness and serenity. She was 
a portly, handsome dame of the family of Esau, and 
seemed not to pine too much for the death of her 
husband, who was of the family of the Saracens. 
He left a son by her, who has all the strong feat- 
ures of his sire, not softened in the least by any of 

"This widow is a person of a lively and cheerful 
conversation, with much less reserve than most of 
her countrywomen. It becomes her well, and sets 
ofE her other agreeable qualities to advantage. We 
tossed off a bottle of honest port, which we relished 
witQi a broiled chicken." On the next day, he adds, 
" I moistened my clay with a quart of milk and tea, 
which I found altogether as great a help to dis- 
course as the juice of the grape. The courteous 
widow invited me to rest myself there that good 
day, and go to church with her, but I excused my- 
self by tiling her she would certainly spoil my 
devotions. Then she civilly entreated me to make 


her house my home whenever I visited my planta- 
tions, which made me bow low and thank her very 

As Colonel Byrd was not only an accomplished 
scholar, but was one of the wittiest men in the col- 
ony^ it is not to be wondered at that the gravity 
of the young widow was disturbed by his polished 
humor. The cheerfulness of which he speaks never 
left her, and if not at that time, she soon became, 
a devoted Christian. She is described as a woman 
of remarkable intellectual gifts, with an unusual 
command of language, and as happily uniting firm- 
ness with gentleness in the management of her 
family, before which she set an example of fervent 
piety. Her talents, indeed, seemed a family posses- 
sion; certainly her brother, William Winston, was 
a person of great powers of eloquence, as the fol- 
lowing account of him in a letter of Nathaniel Pope 
to Mr. Wirt attests. 

" I have often heard my father, who was inti- 
mately acquainted with this William Winston, say, 
that he was the greatest orator whom he ever heard, 
Patrick Henry excepted ; that during the last French 
and Indian War, and soon after Braddock^s defeat, 
when the militia were marched to the frontier of 
Virginia against the enemy, this William Winston 
was the lieutenant of a company; that the men, 
who were indifferently clothed, without tents, and 
exposed to the rigor and inclemency of the weather, 
discovered great aversion to the service, and were 
anxious, and even clamorous, to return to their 
families, when this William Winston, mounting a 
stump, addressed them with such keenness of invec- 
tive, and declaimed with such force of eloquence on 


liberty and patriotism, tliat when he concluded the 
general cry waa, 'Let us march on; lead us against 
the enemy!' and they were now \villing, nay, anx- 
ious, to encounter all those difficulties and dangers, 
which, but a few moments before, had almost pro- 
duced mutiny." * 

Koi many numtha aftw this vuit of Colocul 
Syrdf Ilia Syme mairied John Henry. Hieir reed- 
deaee wm Stadley, in HanoTer Gotmty, the home 
ei Mn. Sway befcira nurrisge, utaated three mUai 
frcna Huiovor town and eizteen from Biohmond. 
The dweOing has long nnoe disappeared, and its site 
is marked by antique hed^s of box, approached 
through an avenue of aged trees. The spot is sur- 
rounded by a forest, which is devoid of picturesque 
scenery, but which makes it literally true that the 
subject of this memoir was "forest-born." ' A few 
miles distant are the *' Slashes of Hanover," famous 
as the birthplace of Henry Clay. 

There were nine children born to John Henry and 
Sai'ah Winston, two sons and seven daughters, and 
from them has sprung a numerous progeny, includ- 
ing many persons of distinction.* The daughters 
are described as being nearly all of them very 
gifted. The first son was named William, after 
Mrs. Henry's brother; the second, born May 29, 
1736, was named Patrick, after the Rev. Patrick 
Henry, the brother of John Henry. This gentleman 
had been induced to come to Virginia by his 
brother, through whose influence he had been made 
rector of St George's parish, in Spottsylvania 
County, in April, 1733. On June 11, 1736, he be- 

< Wirt's Hew7, 91. * Lord Bjnn m oaUu him in The Age of Bnoue. 
* Sm ^ppandix I. 



came rector of St Paul's parish, in Hanover County. 
On the same day the Vestry Book records that John 
Henry was chosen one of the vestry, and sold to 
the parish a tract of land containing three hundred 
and forty-eight acres, called Mount Pleasant, as a 
glebe.^ The two brothers, who were tenderly at- 
tached to each other, afterward lived not far apart. 

While Patrick Henry was still an infant his 
parents removed to another home in the same coun- 
ty, on the South Anna River, near Rocky Mills, and 
about twenty-two miles from Richmond. This new 
home was then called Mount Brilliant, but after- 
ward became known as The Retreat. 

Here Patrick Henry spent his youth, and received 
his education. As that youth has been represented 
as having been thrown away in idleness, it is fortu- 
nate that the account of it given by his brother-in- 
law. Colonel Samuel Meredith, has been preserved. 
Colonel Meredith was four years his senior, and 
lived within four miles of him. He says : 

" He was sent to a common English school until 
about the age of ten years, where he learned to 
read and write, and acquired some little knowledge 
of arithmetic. He never went to any other school, 
public or private, but remained with his father, who 
was his only tutor. With him he acquired a knowl- 
edge of the Latin language, and a smattering of the 
Greek. He became well acqainted with mathe- 
matics, of which he was very fond. At the age 
of fifteen he was well versed in both ancient and 
modem histoiy. Until he attained to eminence at 
the bar, there was nothing very remarkable in 

' Extiact from Vestxy Book, published in " The Southern Churchman,'* 
April 22, 1886. 


the person, mind, or manners of Mr. Henry. His 
disposition was veiy mild, benevolent, and humane. 
He was quiet, and inclined to be thoughtful, but 
fond of society. From his earliest days he was au 
attentive observer of everything of consequence 
that passed before him. Nothing escaped his at- 
tention. He was fond of i-eading, but indulged 
much in innocent amusements. He was remarkably 
fond of his gun. He interested himself much in 
the happiness of others, particularly of his sisters, 
vfaoae advocate he always was when an^ faror or 
iodnlgeiioe was to be procnred from their mother. 
In Ida youtii he seemean^atdleBs of tiie appearance 
of hia ootside dress, bat was nnnsttalty attentiTe in 
having dean linen and stoolkings. He was not re- 
markable for an uncouth or a genteel appearance in 
his youth. In fact, there was nothing in early life 
for which he was remarkable, except nis invariable 
habit of close and attentive observation. He had a 
nice ear for music, and when he was about the a^e 
of twelve he had his collar-bone broken, and during 
the confinement learned to play very well on the flute. 
He was also an excellent performer on the violin. 
He was in early yonth, as in advanced life, plain and 
easy in his manners, exempt from that bashfulness 
often so distressing to young persons who have not 
seen much company. His father often said that he 
was one of the most dutiful sons that ever lived, 
and his sister, Mrs. Meredith, states, that he was 
never known in his life to ntter the name of God, 
except on a necessary or proper occasion." ^ 

Another of Mr. Henry's early companions writes : 

" He was delighted with the ' Life and Opinions of 
Tristram Shandy,' which I have known him to read 

< HS. HucaliTe of Colon«l Bunnel Heradltb, taken down hj Judge 
mUMn H. Cttttia and tent to Mr. Wirt. 


several hours together, lying with his back upon a 
bed. He had a most retentive memory, making 
whatever he read his own. I never heard him quote 
V verbatim any passages from histoiy or poetry, but 
^he would give you the fact or sentiment in his own 
expressive language. He had a most extraordinary 
talent for collecting the sentiments of his company 
upon any subject, without discovering his own, and 
he would effect this by interrogations which to the 
company often appeared to be irrelevant to the sub- 


It was also the testimony of several of his early 
companions, ^^ that he was remarkably fond of fun, 
but that his fun was innocent, and he never discov- 
ered in any one action of his childhood or youth the 
least spice of ill-nature or malevolence ; also that he 
was remarkably fond of hunting, fishing, and play- 
ing on the violin." ' 

From the statement of Patrick Henry in after- 
life, we leani that at fifteen he had read Virgil and 
Livy in the original ; " and from some sentences in 
French written by him in a law book, in 1760, it 
appears that he must have been taught something 
of that language. He also told Judge Hugh Nel- 
son, that a little later in life he made it a rule to 
read a translation of Livy through every year/ 

The character given of young Patrick Henry by 
his companions indicates the careful religious train- 
ing he received from his pious parents. In addition 
to this it was his good fortune in his youth to come 
under the influence of a man of the highest order of 

> MS. Letter of Katiumiel Pope to Mr. Wirt, September 27, 1805, giTing 
statement of Captain George Dabney. 
* Id. *Diai7 of John Adams, Life and Works, IL, 890. 

*Wirt's Henry, 81. 




genius and of the deepest piety. This waa the cele- 
brated pulpit orator, Samuel Davies. The circum- 
stances leading to the residence in the County of 
Hanover of this gifted man, who exercised so marked 
an influence over the future of Patrick Henry, are 
foil of interest. 

In the early part of the eighteenth century, many 
of the ministers of the Established Church in ViJ-ginia 
bad become very unfaithful to the religion of the 
Bible, both in their preaching and their manner of 
life.* Far removed fiom the eye of their diocesan, 
the Bishop of London, and often mere clerical ad- 
venturers, who had sought positions in the colony 
from mercenary motives, they aot only did not 
preach the gospel of Jesos Christ with faithfulness 
themselves, but they were unwiUiDg that their par- 
ishioners should hear it from other lips. They were 
therefore careful that the laws against absenting 
one's self from Episcopal services, and against at- 
tending the preaching of Dissenters, should be rigor- 
ously enforced in their parishes. 

In the county of Hanover, about the year X740, 
four gentlemen, who had been very regular in their 
attendance at church, becoming convinced that the 
pariah minister was not preaching the gospel,' ab- 
sented themselves from church the same day, but 
without preconcert Summoned before the magis* 
trate to answer for their conduct, each learned for 
the first time that three of his neighbors were un- 
der the like condemnation with himself. They bore 

■ See tbie bnmglit out in Bishop Ueule** Old Choicha* uid FwalUw 
of Vii^inla. 

' Thla minliteT wu no doubt tiie leotor of St. Hutin'a pul«li, mod 
pomSOj Ber. Bobert BwmU. Be* Meade's Old Chuohei, L, 420. 


their fines patiently, and afterward met regularly in 
their private houses on the Sabbath, and read what 
few religious books they could get, delighting mostly 
in somiB volumes of Luther. Soon the attendance 
I became too large for a private house, and they built 

I houses of worship, calling them " Morris's Reading 

j Houses," * after Samuel Morris, on whose land the 

first was built. From this beginning was developed 
the Presbyterian Church in Hanover, which soon ex- 
tended over all the colony between the mountains 
and the sea-shore. 

Isaac Winston, the father of Mrs. John Henry, 
was probably one of the four gentlemen who ab- 
sented themselves from the parish church. If not, 
he soon joined them, for we find him indicted in the 
General Court, held by the Governor and Council, 
October 19, 1745, for permitting the Rev. John 
Roane, a dissenting minister, to preach at his house.' 
In 1743 Rev. William Robinson, an eminent 
Presbyterian minister, was sent by the Presbytery 
of Newcastle, as an evangelist to visit the churchee 
in Virginia. He preached to the Dissenters in Han- 
over, and on leaving they expressed their gratitude 
by presenting him with a considerable sum of money. 
Tliis he declined, but when he found that they had 
put it into his saddle-bags, he consented to keep it, 
if he were allowed to use it in educating a young 
man to be sent to them as a minister. The young 
man he selected was Samuel Da vies.' He wae 
educated at the famous classical school of Samuel 
Blair, at Fogg's Manor, in Pennsylvania, and came to 
Hanover in 1747,* after first obtaining from the Gov- 

> Foote*8 Sketches of the Presbyterian Choroh in Virginia, 128-8. 
» Id., 141-2 and 161. » Id. , 129. * Id., 16a 



emor and Council the benefit of the toleration act, 
by which he was permitted to exercise his ministry 
unmolested. He continued to preach in Hanover 
and the sarrounding counties, until he was culled 
to the presidency of Princeton in 1759. This min- 
istry of twelve years was only intermpted by a 
mission to England in behalf of an endowment for 
the college, which was entered upon in the fall of 
1753, and lasted fifteen mouths. So successful was 
he in his labors in the ministry, that he is ju,stly re- 
garded as " the father of the Presbyterian Church in 
Virginia ; " and his contemporaries declared that he 
WW ** the prince of American preachgg a," and aao> 
ond only as a pulpit orator to tlie great Whitefield. 
In person he was tall, well proportioned, erect, and 
comely ; his carriage easy, graceful, and dignified ; 
his dress neat and tasteful, and his manners pol- 
ished. A distinguished Virginian well expressed 
the impression his appearance made, who, seeing 
him walk through a courtyard, remarked that " he 
looked like the embassador of some great king." 
He was endowed with a voice strong, clear, and 
mnsical, a memory from which nothing seemed to 
escape, a powerful yet delicate imagination, a per- 
fect command of strong, oiiiate, and perspicuous dic- 
tion, and an animation in delivery wIlIcIi lighted 
up his featnres, pervaded every look, gesture, and 
movement, and seemed to blend the simplicity of 
nature with the highest culture of art. Indeed, his 
manner of delivery as t^ • pTnJ^]lno^ltj■\f^]\^ ^patnrf, anrl 
madyl ation of voice was a perfect model of the most 
ipnyipgittif) i^|-,plf ing ora tory, while the sublimity 
and elegance, simplicity and perspicuity of his dis- 
courses, rendered his sermons not only models for 


all who heard them, but for posterity as well, for 
whom, happily, many of them have been presei-ved. 
Whenever this august and venerable person ascended 
the sacred desk, he seized the attention and com- 
manded all the various passions of his audience, 
and imparted to the discourse a solemnity which 
6ould never be forgotten. A true patriot, he em- 
ployed his great gifts in cheering up his countrymen 
after the depressing defeat of Braddock in 1755, 
and the first volunteer company raised in Virginia, 
after that crushing disaster, was fi'om his congrega- 
tions, the result of a patriotic discourse delivered 
July 20, 1755. Before this company, commanded by 
Captain Overton, he preached August 17, 1755, and 
in appealing to the martial spirit of his hearers he 
made prophetic mention of the young officer who 
had saved the command of Braddock from annihila- 
tion. He said : " As a remarkable instance of this, I 
may point out to the public, that heroic youth. Col- 
onel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Provi- 
dence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner 
for some important service to his country." ^ 

An anecdote is related of him which shows his 
fearlessness as a preacher. It is said that while he 
was in London King George II., attracted by his 
reputation, attended one of his services. He was so 
pleased that he expressed himself to those sitting 
near him, to the great interruption of the service. 
Finally Mr. Davies fixed his eye upon him, and said, 
with great solemnity : " When the lion roareth, the 
beasts of the forests tremble ; when the Lord speak- 
eth, let the kings of the earth keep silence." The 

' For Bome aoooant of Mr. DavicB and his work, see Foote's Sketches 
of Virginia. 


King shrank back in his seat and remained quiet 
during the remainder of the discourse, and next day 
sent for Mr. Davies and gave him fifty guineas foi- 
the college, observing at the same time to hie cour- 
tiers, " He is an honest man ! an honest man ! " ' 

It was under the influence of such a man that 
Patrick Henry came at the inj^regaiblo age of 
twelve^ One of the places at which Mr. Davies 
preached was known as " the Fork Church," and 
here Mrs. John Henry, who became a member of 
his church, attended regularly. She was in the 
habit of riding in a double gig, taking with her 
young Patrick, who, from the fii-st, showed a high 
appreciation of the preacher. Ketuming from 
church she would make him g[ivg the t ^xt. and a iv>. 
ca pitulation of the di scourse. She po\i )d Tiavft dfinia 
her son no greater serv ice. His sympathetic gen- 
ius was not only aroused by the eloquence of the 
preacher, who, he ever declared, was " the greatest 
orator he ever heard,'* but he learned from him 
that robust system of theology which is known as 
Calvinism, and which has furnished to the world 
80 many of her greatest characters — a system of 
which Froude writes : " It has been able to inspire 
and sustain the bravest efforts ever made by man 
to break the yoke of imjust authority, . . . has 
borne ever an inflexible front to illusion and men- 
dacity, and has preferred rather to be gi-ound to 
powder, like flint, than to bend before violence, or 
melt under enervating temptation." ' 

Although Mr. Whitefield visited Hanover during 
one of his American tours, it is probable that Pat- 

■ Howe's Tiigiiiia Hlitoriool Cotleotiooii, 804. 

* AddMM to the StadentB tit St. Andrews, Hknili 17, 1871. 


rick Henry was too young to have appreciated him, 
and he had reached manhood before James Wad- 
dell, the eloquent blind preacher, entered the minis- 
try.^ His early example of eloquence, therefore, 
was Mr. Davies, and the effect of his teaching upon 
his after life may be plainly traced. Although he 
never withdrew from the Episcopal Church, in 
which he was baptized, he became the persistent 
advocate of religious liberty. Colonel Meredith 
says of him : " He was through life a warm friend 
of the Christian religion. He was an Episcopalian, 
but very fi'iendly to all sects, particularly the Pres- 
byterian. His father was an Episcopalian, his 
mother a Presbyterian." * 

When about the age of fifteen Patrick Henry 
was placed by his father with a merchant of the 
county, in order that he might be trained for mer- 
cantile life. After a year's experience he and his 
brother William were set up in business in a coun- 
try store, with a stock of goods purchased for them 
by their father. Patrick, though the younger, was 
equally interested, and was indeed the piincipal 
manager. The brothers were too indulgent in grant- 
ing credit, and one year was enough to embarrass 
the business and cause its discontinuance. Upon 
Patrick devolved the care of winding up this short- 
lived firm, and while he was thus engaged, in the 
fall of 1754, before he was nineteen years of age, 
he was married to Sarah, a daughter of John Shel- 
ton, who lived in the part of the county known as 
the Fork. His wife was an estimable woman, of 
most excellent parentage, and brought him six ne- 

> This was in 1761. Foote's Sketches of Viiginia, 851. 
* MS. Narrative sent to Mr. Wirt 



groea and a tract of poor land, containing three 
hundred acres, called Pine Slash, and adjoining her 
father's place.' His parents gave bim some little 
property besides, and with this start in the world 
he attempted to support himself by agriculture. It 
is probable that most of the negroes given him 
were very young, as we find him forced to labor on 
his fai*m with his own hands.' In the year 1757 he 
lost, by an accidental fire, his dwelling-house and 
the greater part of his furniture. He thereupon 
sold some of his negroes to repair his loss and to buy 
a small stock of goods, with which, early in 1 758, he 
opened a country store,' hoping with his farm and 
store to secure a support for his growing family. 
His mercantile business was small, even for a coun* 
try store, and was conducted by a clerk.* Unfor- 
tanately he did not profit by his previous experience 
in the matter of credit, as many of his accounts ap- 
pear to have been uncollected. The business con- 
tinned for about two years, and his cash sales only 
footed up £S9 6s. 3d. This was doubtless due to 
the failure in the tobacco crop in 1759, upon which 
the planters were dependent for money. At the end 
of two years he found his capital gone and himself 
in debt, but not insolvent, as has been represented. 
His business had been too limited for that result^ 
and we have his statement, late in life, that he was 
never sued for a debt of his own. 

It was daring this critical period of his life that 
we are permitted to see him as he appeared to 

■ KibT of PkUiok Heniy tn his kcooont book. 

) HS. LaUei of Jadge Edmniid Winston to Mr. Wlit. 

* MS. Stktement of Colonel Meredith sent to Mr. Wirt. 

' Tliia ^ipMH bj the bandwrildiig in tbo ledger in pnmiiHriap ol Mm 


Thonias JefEersoa, who has left ao account of their 
first meeting. One of Mr. Henry's nearest neigh- 
bors and warmest friends was Captain Nathaniel 
West Dandridge, formerly of the British navy, who 
was a great-grandson of Captain John West, brother 
of Thomas West, Lord Delaware, and who had mar- 
ried Dorothea, daughter of Governor Alexander 
Spotswood. He was a man of large means, and, as 
was the custom of the colony, very hospitable. It 
was at his honse that Patrick Henry and Thomas 
Jefferson first met. The following is Mr. Jeffer- 
son's account of the meeting : 

" My acquaintance with Mr. Henry commenced 
in the winter of 1769-1760, On my way to the 
College I passed the Christmas holidays at Colonel 
Dandridge's, in Hanover, to whom Mr. Henry 
was a near neighbor. During the festivity of the 
season I met him in society eveir day, and we be- 
came well acquainted, although I was much his jun- 
ior, being then in my seventeenth year and he a 
married man. His manners had something of 
coarseness in them ; his passion was music, danc- 
ing, and pleasantry. He excelled in the last, and it 
attached everyone to him. You ask some account 
of his mind and information at this period, but you 
will recollect that we were almost continually en- 
g^ed in the usual revelries of the seasoa The oc- 
casion, perhaps, as much as his idle disposition, pre- 
vented his engaging in any conversation which 
might give tlie measure either of his mind or in- 
formation. Opportunity was not, indeed, wholly 
wanting, because Mr. John Campbell was there, 
who ha(i married Mrs. Spotswood, the sister of Colo- 
nel Dandridge. He was a man of science and often 
■introduced conversation on scientific subjects. Mr. 
Henry had, a little before, broken up his store — or. 


rather, it had broken him up ; but hia misfortunes 
were not traced, either in his coantenance or eon- 
duct." ' 

This account was given to Mr, Wirt after Mr. 
Jefferson had become an old man, and a political 
opponent of Mr. Henry, and hia statements concern- 
ing him must be talien with dae allowance. Mr. 
Jefferson is certainly inaccurate in stating that " Mr. 
Heory had, a little before, broken up hig store, or 
rather it had broken hira up." Mr. Henry's ledger 
shows that the store was not closed before July, 
1 760, and the closing -out sale of the remnant of bis 
goods was made to one firm, Crenshaw & Grant, 
September 19, 1760. 

It was doubtless after he had become aware that 
the store and farm combined would not support hia 
family, that Mr. Jefferson met him. His cheerful- 
ness of mind was not the result of callousneBS as to 
his affairs, bat of a cheerful and self-reliant spirit 
which no misfortune could benumb. Before he 
closed his mercantile venture he had determined to 
try the profession of the law, for which he was con- 
sciouB of at least one qualification, a^kQ^ucLedge of 
hUTngn mi,tnrA. This hia ^^abit of; _cl o8e observa tion 
ftnj^ftTT^pIn nppnf tanitiea as a mer chant had given 
l^im \t\ III II iiimlmliln ~"ih'ti;ii'i' While doubtless 
drawn to the profession by some fancy for ita con- 
tests, he was not yet aware of the genius which it 
was to develop in him. Says Judge Edmund Win- 
Bton, his first cousin and contemporary : " He may 
be considered to have been at tins time a virtuous 
young man, unconscious of the powers of his own 

_WaVa Btauj, SS-fU 


mind, and in very narrow circumstances, making a 
last effort to supply the wants of his family." ^ 

The necessity which drove him to this step proved 
an incalculable blessiug, and when, late in life, he 
wrote the following to a young friend, who had 
been unfortunate in business, he crystallized into 
one of the gems of English literature his own expe- 
rience. Said he : *' Looking forward into life and to 
those prospects which seem to be commensurate 
with your talents, native and acquired, you may 
justly esteem those incidents fortunate which com- 
pel an exertion of mental power, maturity of which 
is rarely seen growing out of an uninterrupted tran- 
quillity. Adversity toughens manhood, and the 
characteristic of the good or the great man, is not 
that he has been exempted from the evils of life, 
but that he has surmounted them." * Having de- 
termined to enter the profession, he borrowed a " Coke 
upon Littleton," and a " Digest of the Virginia Acts." 
These he read in a month or six weeks, by close ap- 
plication, and then, upon the advice of John Lewis, 
a prominent lawyer of the county, he rode to Will- 
iamsburg and appeared before the Board of Exam- 
iners as an applicant for license. Although his re- 
tentive memory enabled him to use what he had 
read, so circumscribed had been his course, that the 
examiners, before whom he appeared separately, 
were said to have been reluctant to sign his license. 
His experience with one of them, the accomplished 
John Randolph, afterward Attorney-General for the 
colony, was related by Mr. Henry subsequently to 

> MS. Letter to Mr. Wirt. 

* From *' The Southern Literary MesBaoger/' xix., 817. The letter is 
dated Jnne 2, 1798. 


hia friend, Judge John Tyler, Mr. Randolph, ac- 
cording to Judge Tyler, was not at first pleased with 
his appearance in his plain country clothes, and was 
indisposed to examine him at all, but learning that 
he already had two signatures he reluctantly con- 
■ented to ask him aome qae8ti<nu. 
Mr. "Wirt, in ^ving Jndge Idler's aoooont, ujb : 

" A Tery short time was sufficient to satisfy biK of 
ibe emHieaiu conclusion which be had drawn ft<om 
Ae externa of Hie candidate. Wit^ evident marks 
ci increanng Brnprise (prodnced, no doubt, hy tbe 
peenliar texture and strength of Mr. Henry's style, 
and the boldness and oiiginality of his combinatioi^) 
he continued the examination for several hours ; in- 
terrogating the candidate, not on the principles of 
mnnicipal law, in which he no doubt soon discovei'ed 
his deficiency, but on the laws of natm*e and of na- 
tions, on the policy of tbe feudal system, and on gen- 
eral history, which last he found to be his stronghold. 
During the very short portion of the examination 
which was devoted to the common law, Mr. Ran- 
dolph dissented, or affected to dissent, fi-om one of 
Mr. Henry's answers, and called upon him to assign 
t^e reasons for bis opinions. This produced an ar- 

Snment ; and Mr. Randolph now played off on him 
le same arts which be himsdf had so often prac- 
tised on his customers, drawing him out by ques- 
tions, endeavoring to puzzle him by subtleties, as- 
sailing him with declamation, and watching continn- 
ally the defensive operations of his mind. After a 
considerable discussion, he said : ' You defend your 
opinions well, sir, but now to the law and to the testi- 
mony.' Hereupon he carried him to his office, and 
opening tbe authoiities he said to him : ' Behold 
the force of natural reason; yon have never seen 
these books, nor this principle of the law ; yet you 


are right and I am wron^; and from this lesson 
which you have given me (you must excuse me for 
saying it,) I will never trust to appearances again. 
Mr. Henry, if your industry be only half equal to 
your genius I augur that you will do well, and be- 
come an ornament and an honor to your profes- 
sion.^ " * 

Mr. JefEerson has given two accounts of this ex- 
amination, not entirely consistent with each other.* 
In one of them, that given to Mr. Wirt, after relating 
their meeting at Colonel Dandridge^s in the winter 
of 1759-60, he says : 

" The spring following he came to Williamsburg to 
obtain a license as a lawyer, and he called on me at 
college. He told me he had been reading law only 
six weeks. Two of the examiners, however, Peyton 
and John Randolph, men of great facility of temper, 
signed his license with as much reluctance as theii* 
dispositions would permit them to show. Mr. Wythe 
absolutely refused. Robert C. Nicholas refused also 
at first, but on repeated importunity and promises 
of future reading, he signed. These facts I had 
afterward from the gentlemen themselves, the two 
Randolphs acknowledging he was very ignorant of 
law, but that they perceived him to be a young 
man of genius and did not doubt he would soon 
qualify himself." ' 

In 1824, some ten years later, Mr. Jefferson said 
to Daniel Webster and the Ticknors at Monticello : 

" There were four examiners, Wythe, Pendleton, 
Peyton Randolph, and John Randolph. Wythe and 

> Wirt'8 Henxy, 84 

* See these compaied in Tyler's Life of Phtriok Henry, 21. 
s Memorandum for Mr. Wirt. " mstoriosl Magazine,*' August, 1867, 


PendletiHi at once rejected Iub applioation ; the two 
Bandcdpfai were, by nis iiDjxniiiiiily, prarailed upon 
to ngn ihe Hoense; and havine obtuned their signa" 
tuTfli^ he again applied to Pendleton, and aftv mwah 
eatoeaty and many promisee of fatore stady, enc- 
oeeded also in obtsinmff his. He then tnmed out 
for a praotifdng lawyer. * 

Donbfless the acoonnt given Hr. Wirt by Jndg^ 
Tjlet is the most oonrect of these. It is very on*' 
tidtt tint "Mr. Henry was poorly [nepared to stand 
an examination l^ the leaned lawyers who consti- 
toted the board. Bat, however ignorant of lus la- 
tent powers, it is dear that he was already recognized 
as a man of nncommon intellectaal gifts. 

■ Cnitu*! Life of Webater, L, 09*. 



Begins Fnuttica of Iaw in Fall of 1760. -^His Fee Books Preserred. 
— Ziftrge Pnotioo from the Beginning of His ProfeBBJonal Lit«, 
— The " PuBonj^ Ganse." — Erenta Leading to It and bsDea Xn> 
Tolved in It. — iii. Henry's Appeuanoe in It.— Fint Exhibition 
of His Oeuins as an Ontor. — Large Increase of His Pnotioa. — 
His Appeaianoe in Williamabni^ in the Contested Eleotion 
Oase of Dandridge vt. LitUepage.— Fnrcbue of a Farm in 
Lonisa Oonnfy.— Jndg« Lyona's Acconnt of His Hanner at the 

Aa we have seen, Mr, Jefferson fixes the visit of Mr. 
Heniy to WUliamsburg, to obtain his license as a 
lawyer, in the Spring of 1760.' If this be cori-ect, 
he very certainly continued his studies for some 
months after his return before commencing the prao 
tice. That all-important book to a young attorney, 
a volume of forms of declarations and pleas, was 
given him by Peter Fontaine, whose sister Mary 
Ann had married Isaac Winston, the uncle of Mr. 
Henry. In it, in the handwriting of Mr. Henry, are 
found these words : " Le don de Pierre de la Fon- 
taine," and " Patrice Henry le Jeune, son livre. 
Avrille 18th, 1760." » 

The appearance of his first fee book indicates that 
he did not commence practice till the fall of the 

n KDt Hi. WiTt, printed in " The PfaUadelpbU Age " and 
" Hiatorioal Mugarine," Aognst, 1B67, 90, wUoh last is quoted. 

' The Tolame was given to the anthoi hj Mr, Bowyer O&ldwell, of tlie 
White BnlphoT SpriDgi, W. Vs. 

year. This is in the same folio in which he kept 
the ledger of his mercantile business. The last 
entry touching this is dated September 19, 1760, and 
is a charge to Crenshaw & Grant of the remnant of 
his goods, amounting to £25 Is. 3|d. On the next 
leaf he commences the index to his fee accounts. 
His fees follow, and are charged by the year, but 
not by the month. His first clients were a firm of 
merchants, Coutts & Crosse, and during the year 
1760 he entered the names of sixty clients, and 
chai'ged one hundred and seventy-five fees, besides 
those charged on the first page, which has been lost 
from the book. Such a remarkable success for the 
first few months of his professional career demon- 
strates conclusively that he waa personally popu- 
lar, and was recognized as an industrious and capa- 
ble lawyer from the beginning. The full practice 
upon which he at once entered was retained. Of 
the ninety-two pages of his fee books, extending 
through the year 1763, sixteen had been cut out 
and taken away by relic-hunters, or otherwise lost, 
before the book came into the posseasioo of the an- 
thor. But estimating that the fees charged on the 
missing pages average with those still preserved, 
it appears that from the fall of 1 760 to the end of 
1763, Mr. Henry chained fees in 1,185 suits, be- 
sides many fees for advice, and for preparing papers 
out of court. An examination of these entries of 
fees shows that Mr. Henry waa transacting all the 
business of a country practice, his courts being the 
county courts of Hanover and the surronnding 
counties. The county courts, held by justices, were 
the only coui-ts in the colony, except the General 
Court, consisting of the Goveiiior and his Council, 


sitting at Williamsburg. This country practice, 
which embraced every branch of the profession, was 
the best training which he could have had. It was 
impossible for him to have acquired or retained it, 
unless he had been attentive and faithful in his 
business, and industrious in his habits, for the great 
bulk of it was mere routine work, such as bringing 
plain actions of debt 

The fortunate preservation of Mr. Hemy's fee 
books, covering the whole time of his service at the 
bar, corrects the false impression of him as a law- 
yer given to the world through Mr. Jefferson's com- 
munication to Mr. Wirt, in which he wrote : 

" He turned his views to the law, for the acquisi 
tion or practice of which he was too lazy. . . . 
He never undertook to draw pleadings ii he could 
avoid it, or to manage that part of the cause, and 
very unwillingly engaged but as an assistant to 
speak in the cause, and the fee was an indispen- 
sable preliminary, observing to the applicant that 
he kept no accounts, never putting them to paper, 
which was true." ^ 

The neatly kept accounts, showing many fees for 
drawing papers, and appearing in cases in which, 
from their nature, he must have been the only coun- 
sel, and the moderate fees charged, as regulated by 
statute, prove that Mr. Henry was a very different 
business man and lawyer from the picture drawn by 
the pen of Mr. Jefferson in his old age. Indeed, 
these invaluable records of his professional life 
show that Mr. Henry's success as a lawyer was far 

* Memorandam of Je£fexBon, <'Hiatorioal Magwrine/* August, IS^* 


greater, from the first, than that of Mr. JefferHon as 
claimed by his ablest biographer.* 

Such a practice, although the fees were moderate 
and not ligidly collected, soon enabled Mr. Henry 
to relieve himself from the debt he had incurred, and 
not only to support his family corafoi'tably, but to 
help both his father and father-in-law, who were not 
prosperous men. Their accounts on his books show 
that this help was generously extended. 

Mr. Shelton had moved to Hanover Court House, 
and opened a house of public entertainment. Mr. 
Henrj', while attending court, stayed with him, and 
it is said sometimes assisted him in attending to the 
guests. This, no doubt, was the origin of the state- 
ment made by Mr. JefEerson to Mr. Wirt long after* 
ward. He wrote : " He acted, as I have under- 
stood, as barkeeper in the tavern at Hanover Court 
HouBe for some time." ' This statement was indig- 
nantly denied by Colonel Meredith and others, who 
stated that nothing could have been more repugnant 
to Mr. Henry than such an occupation. The evi- 
dence on the subject has been examined in the origi- 
nal, by Mr. Wirt and Dr. Tyler, and both have 
expressed themselves satisfied, that the statement 
repeated by Mr. JefEerson is not true.' Indeed, the 
business recorded on Mr. Henry's fee books would 
have prevented his occupying his time in any otbei' 
way, than in attending to his profession. 

The entries by Mr. Henry on his mercantile and 
fee books entirely disprove another misstatement 
about him, namely, that he was an illiterate man 

> BandmU't LUe of Jeflenon, L, 47. 

' Jfemonadiun, " Hiitoilul UagssiDe," AngiiBt, 1667, S8L 

) Wiit'i Henij, 87, ud Tjlei's Heniy, 94. 


when he entered upon his profession. These entries 
are in a well-formed hand, and are faultless in spell- 
ing and punctuation. The same may be said of all 
of his private papers ; and when the reader is in- 
troduced to his correspondence, he will find his com- 
position not only correct, but exceedingly graceful 
Mr. Jefferson told Daniel Webster that his " pro- 
nunciation was vulgar and vicious ; " ^ and Governor 
John Page related that he once heard him say : 
" JSfaiteral parts is better than all the la/mirC upon 
yearthy * This vicious pronunciation and bad gram- 
mar were evidently used to point some exhibition of 
humor, of which Mr. Henry was fond, as he was 
undoubtedly a good grammarian. What is called 
vulgar and vicious pronunciation by Mr, Jefferson, 
was doubtless the country mode of pronouncing cer- 
tain words, which struck the ear of the polished 
Jefferson unpleasantly. These peculiarities of pro- 
nunciation were not confined to Mr. Henry how- 
ever. We are told by Judge Roane that the ac- 
complished Edmund Pendleton was in the habit of 
saying scaicely for scarcely, and the no less scholar- 
ly John Taylor, of Caroline, of saying hare for bar.® 

There can be little doubt that in a practice of 
three years, such as Mr. Henry enjoyed, he made 
reputation as an advocate. Had he not done so, 
he would not have been employed in November, 
1763, as a forlorn hope, in the celebrated "Parsons' 
Cause." This cause, which had such an important 
bearing upon his subsequent life, and upon the his- 
tory of Virginia, deserves a careful notice. 

The charter government of Virginia allowed her 

1 Cnrtis's Life of Webster, i, 585. * Wirt's Henry, 53. 

' MS. Communication to Mr. Wirt. 




a House of Burgesses, elected by the people, which 
was first held in 1619. All acts of this body, to 
become laws, however, required the approval of the 
Governor and bis Council, the Governor being the 
representative of the King. But an act approved 
by both the Burgesses and tlie Governor and Council 
might be disallowed by the King. This operated 
greatly to the inconvenience and injury of the col- 
ony, as it was impossible to meet sudden calamity 
and distress by legislation, which was dependent on 
Hut win of a sorereign with whom it took monttba 
to oomouinicate^ whose infomiation as to the needs 
al tiie eo]<my was necessarily imperfect, and who 
often disallowed laws most beoelicial to the people. 
When an act had been once approved by the King, 
he required all subsequent acts making any altera- 
tion therein to be suspended in terms, until they 
should be approved by him. 

One of the most difficult problems of colonial life 
was that of cuirency. The colony was not allowed 
the privilege of coining money, and its trade with 
the mother country did not bring in British gold. 
Tobacco was its great staple for export, but the ab- 
sorption of its trade by Great Britain, and the dis- 
couragements to home manufactures, resulted in a 
usual balance of trade against the colony. Hugh 
Jones wrote in 1724 : " The country is yearly sup- 
plied with vast quantities of goods from Great 
Britain. . . . The merchants, factors, or store- 
keepers in Virginia buy up the tobacco of the 
planters, either for goods or current Spanish money, 
or with sterling bills payable in Great Britain." ' 

The Spanish money was coin obtained from the 

> PreMDt SUte of Tirgiiiiis, 93, 6S. 


adjacent Spanish possessionB, and was m small quan- 
tity. From necessity the planters began to tise to- 
bacco as a medium of exchange, and to make their 
contracts payable therein. Various acts were passed 
to regulate this custom, which will be found consol- 
idated in 1632,' by an act providing for five ware- 
houses, in which aJl tobacco intended to be used as 
a medium of trade should be stored, and properly 
inspected, that found to be below the standard 
quality to be burned. Several subsequent revis- 
ions were made of the tobacco laws, and it came to 
pass that the certificates, or inspectors' notes, g^ven 
at the legal wai-ehouses, became the main currency 
of the colony, the value of tobacco being quite a 
steady quantity. In this currency not only private, 
but public dues were solvable. The expenses of 
government were estimated and taxes were levied 
payable in it. 

As early as 1696, the salaries of the clei^y of the 
Established Church had been fixed by statute at six- 
teen thousand pounds of tobacco, to be levied by the 
several vestries on their parishes.* This was besides 
their " lawful perquisites," consisting of the use of 
the glebes, and the monopoly of marriage and burial 
fees. In 1748 this law was revised and re-enacted, 
and this new act was approved by the King.' At 
this time, and afterward for some years, the value 
of the inspected tobacco was rated at sixteen shil- 
lings and eight pence per hundred pounds, at the 
highest. This appears by the act of 1752, provid- 
ing compensation to the planters who had suffered 
by loss from the ovei-flow of certain warehouses on 



tide water.' This was fifty per cent, advance upon 
the value of tobacco in 1 696, when the salaries of 
the clergy were fixed at sixteen thousand pounds. 
In October, 1755, the House of Burgesses, finding 
that a great drought had cut short the crop of to- 
bacco, so that it would be impossible for the people 
to pay their tobacco debts in kind, passed an act, to 
continue in force for ten months, making it lawful 
for debtoi-s to pay their tobacco dues and taxes in 
money, at the rate of sixteen shillings and eight 
pence for every hundred pounds of tobacco.* This 
being at the rate of two pence per pound caused the 
act to be known as " the twopenny act." This act, 
the necessity of which was so obvious, was very 
generally acquiesced in by creditors.' As it was an 
effort to regulate a fluctuating currency by one ac- 
knowledged to be the standard, and only directed the 
value to be placed on that which had fluctuated 
which was in the minds of the parties to the con- 
tracts involved, and of the legislature when the 
public taxes were laid, it must be admitted to have 
been right and proper. The same principle was ap- 
plied in settling debts in the United States, in France, 
and in the late Confederate States, upon the failure 
of their revolutionary currencies. Debtors were al- 
lowed to pay their debts contracted with reference 
to the collapsed paper money as a standard of value, 
in the equivalent value in specie. 

As was anticipated, tobacco rose in value, but the 
price was not greatly increased.* Some of the clergy 
were unwilling to forego the advantage of collect- 
ing their salaries in kind, and addressed a commu- 

> HcninK : StetotM at LwgB, vi. 287. * Id., tL, 86S. 

> (kiiipb«U'a HlMtoTj of Tirghiia, 007. ' Fcuy'a CoUaotiona, 606. 



nication to their DiocesaD, the Bishop of London, 
praying that he would exert his influence to have 
the act annulled by the King.^ Among the peti- 
tioners was the Rev. Patrick Henry. Others of 
the clergy determined to make no opposition to the 
act, declaring that they thought it right that they 
should share in the misfortunes of the community. 
Among these was the Rev. James Maury, of Louisa.' 
To this conclusion came the convention of the clergy 
afterward held.' 

On September 14, 1758, upon the meeting of the 
Assembly, it was apparent that the unseasonable 
weather of the summer would again produce a short 
crop of tobacco. An act similar to that of 1755 
was thereupon passed, to continue in force for one 
year. Neither of these acts had the usual clause 
suspending its operation until the royal sanction was 
obtained. The crop fell short and the price rose 
correspondingly. Although the law was universal 
in its effects, the clergy were the only class that de- 
termined to resist its operation. The Rev. John 
Camm assailed the action of the Assembly in "The 
Virginia Gazette," and was replied to by Colonel 
Richard Bland and Colonel Landon Carter, two of 
the most prominent men in the colony. The con- 
test was acrimonious, and the cause of the clergy 
became so unpopular, that Mr. Camm was forced 
to go to Maryland to find a printer for his rejoin- 
der, styled, "The Colonels Dismounted." A con- 
vention of the clergy was held, and they determined 
to appeal to the King. Mr. Camm was sent to 
England with a petition for the veto of the act. 

1 Perry^s GollectioxiB, 440. * Memoirs of a Hogaenot Familji 402. 

* Perry's GoUectiozis, 508. 


H» OMdiied an onteF of CSonncil to this effaotj 
dited ^Aaq;iHt 10, 176fl, and was told hy the Lords 
oi^Vmde and the Privy Goondl that this would 
nndflr the act void, ab initio. H« therenpon re- 
tamed to IHi^ia, aiHl brought a suit in the Oen- 
mt Ocnirt to test the validity of the law, deter- 
inlned to^qipeal to tiie King in Goanoil if defeated 
in the Virginia Court. The Assembly met after*' 
ward abd Voted to bear the expenses of appeal in 
all cases' brought by the clergy. Thns the Assem- 
bly litd tiie dwgy wem in declared aBtagoaism. 
TbA dergy contended that their salaries most be 
ooittddered as diie by contracts which fixed them at 
sixteen thoosand pounds of tobacco per annum; 
that as they had received this qnantity when to- 
bacco was low because of lai^e crops, bo they were 
entitled to it when it was high because of a small 
crop ; that while it was true that the Governor had 
approved of the act, he bad done so in violation of 
his general instmctions, and it required the King's 
express consent to give it force, as it afEected a pre- 
vious law which he had approved ; and that once 
disapproved it was shown to have been void, a6 

Those who defended the Assembly urged, that the 
small crop had made it impossible for debtors to 
meet their tobacco does, rendered unusually large 
by the burden of taxation cansed by the French 
War; that the act was general, and relieved all 
debtors who owed tobacco ; that it operated not 
to reduce the quantity, but to fix the fair value of 
the staple contracted for; that of all classes the 
clergy shonld be the first to sympathize with the 
distress of the people, but now they were found to 


be the only creditors wlio wished to oppress them ; 
and that the act, having received the approval of 
the royal Governor, was of force till it was disal- 
lowed by the King himself, when it had, in fact, ex- 
pired by its terms.* It will be seen that, stripped of 
the moral questions, the controversy was reduc^ to 
the sole question of the force of an act between its 
date and the disapproval of the King. 

Some of the clergy were unwilling that their 
rights should be settled by the suit instituted by 
Mr. Camm, and they brought separate actions in the 
county courts, with varied results. In the suit of 
Rev. Thomas Warrington, of York County, the 
jury gave damages against the parish collector, 
but the court held the act to be v^id and refused 
to enter up judgment for the plaintiff. In the case 
of Rev. Alexander White, of King William, all the 
questions were left to the jury, and they found for 
the defendant. In both of these cases appeals were 
taken to the General Court' None of the suits 
brought excited such interest as that instituted by 
Rev. James Maury, of the parish of Fredericksville, 
in Louisa County. He was a man of high character, 
and had refused to oppose the previous act On 
April 1, 1762, he brought suit in the County Court 
of Hanover, in the name of the vestry of his parish, 
against Thomas Johnson and Tarlton Brown, col- 
lectors of the parish levies, and the sureties on their 
official bond. Peter Lyons, the leading lawyer in 
that part of the colony, and afterward the distin- 
guished president of the Virginia Court of Appeals, 

> Qoile a fall ducaarioa of the act will be foond m Campbell's HieUoy 
Ttiginiai oha|»» Ixt. 
^ 8m Peny^t Collectiont f<Mr these auia. 


was his counsel. John Lewis, also able counsel, ap- 
peared for the defendants, and relied on the Act of 
September 14, 1758, with which they bad strictly 
complied. To this plea the plaintiff demurred as 
insufficient, and thus raised the question of the va- 
lidity of the act. The demurrer was argued on No- 
vember 5, 1763, and was sustained by the court, 
which thus declared the act to have been null and 
void. Considering the popular feeling, this action 
of the coui't, presided over by Colonel John Henry, 
is highly creditable to its integrity and firmness. 
These qualities, indeed, were characteristic of the 
Virginia magistrates, and when we remember that 
they were selected for their intelligence and stand- 
ing in the community, and held office by a life ten- 
ure, we can understand what an important part they 
played in the history of the colony. 

The decision upon the demurrer left nothing to be . 
done in Mr. Maury's case but the ascertainment by 
a jury of the damages, which consisted of the dif- 
ference between the money actually paid him and 
the value of the tobacco to which he was entitled. 
The litigation bad thus assumed the most favorable 
aspect for the clergy, who looked upon it now as a 
test case in which the jury would be forced to ^ve 
the full amount of the damages claimed. Mr. Lewis 
considered the cause of his clients lost, and in this 
extremity Patrick Henry was employed for the de- 

The jury trial was fixed for the December term 
of the court, eommeacing on the first day of the 
month, and excited a widespread interest Not- 
withstanding the inclement season of the year a 
large crowd attended. Early in the morning the 


sturdy planters, in their home-spun and home-made 
clothes, might be seen approaching the court-house 
on horseback. Interspersed with them were the 
Scotch merchants and richer citizens, dressed in 
cloth of finer texture. These mingled freely in the 
court-yard, while grouped by themselves might be 
seen the ministers, who had collected from the 
neighboring parishes to the number of twenty. 
Among these was the Bev. Alexander White, whose 
defeat before a jury of his own county had only 
served to intensify his interest in the struggle 
of the clergy. The ordinary topics of the court- 
yard were laid aside, and instead of the usual in- 
quiries as to the condition of the tobacco crop in 
the bams, and the prices to be expected for it; 
the arrivals of vessels from abroad, and the prices 
of goods expected by them; the absorbing sub- 
ject of conversation was the controversy with the 

During the morning the caniage of the venerable 
clergyman of the county, the Rev. Patrick Henry, 
was seen approaching the court-house. No sooner 
was it recognized by his nephew, than he walked to 
meet him, accompanied by his brother-in-law. Col- 
onel Samuel Meredith. When the aged minister 
alighted Mr. Henry accosted him most respectfully, 
and requested him not to appear in the court-house 
on that day. " Why ? " asked the old gentleman* 
" Because," replied his nephew, " I am engaged in 
opposition to the clergy, and your appearance there 
might strike me with such awe as to prevent me 
from doing justice to my clients." " Rather than 
that effect should be produced, Patrick," said his 
uncle, " I will not only absent myself from the court- 


house, but will return home." And, accordingljj 
ttateirn^ bis eamag» i^ain, he rode away.' 

' OA ^t6 opening of the ooort Colonel John Henxjr 
tweiqiied his Best aa presiding jnstice, while to h^ 
T^ht and left sat the other justices. Next to theae^ 
on Hm same loag beneh, the elergy fcmnd Beati^ ex- . 
«ept Mr. iSMXtrj, who sat in the bar with his eoaa- 
td. Tin ease of Hanry ^^inst Johnson and otharfe 
was soon edled, and upon the annotincemait of 
eomuel that they were ready for trial, the Bheriff 
was ordered to snmmon a select jorjr. He west 
Ite^ and in due time returned with alist which did 
not suit the plaintiff as he only knew one or two 
of them, and none belonged to the class known as 
gentlemen. He thereupon objected to the panel, but 
as he had not the right of peremptory challenge, and 
could not show good cause for his objection, and as 
Patrick Henry insisted that they were honest men, 
and therefore unexceptionable, they were sworn as 
jurymen. Their names were Benjamin Anderson, 
John Wingfield, George Dabney, John Thornton, 
Samuel Morris, Brewster Sims, William Claybrook, 
Stephen Willis, Jacob Hundly, Roger Shackelford, 
John Blackwell, and Benjamin Oliver.* Three of 
them certainly were Dissenters, Geoi^e Dabney, 
Samuel Morris, and Roger Shackelford, and the two 
last had been prosecuted in 1745 for allowing Rev. 
John Roane to preach at their houses.' The plain- 
tiffs counsel introduced as testimony the bond of 
the defendants as collectors; the order of the vestry 
directing a levy to be made for the salary of Mr. 

> IE& Hmnonndnm ot Coltmal Sunnal HeiediUi nude for Mi. Wilt 

* Taken from the leoord of the Mwe. 

* Footo'i SketdM of TteKiuU, 143, ISl. 



Maury in 1759 ; and two witnesses, Mr. Gist and 
Mr. McDowell, the largest dealers in tobacco in the 
county, by whom it was proved that the price of 
tobacco in the county in 1769 was fifty shillings per 
hundred pounds. Mr. Lyons here rested the evi- 
dence for the plaintiffs. The counsel for the defence 
then introduced the receipt of Mr. Maury for <£144, 
the value of the tobacco due him as commuted by 
the act of Assembly, and rested their evidence. Mr. 
Lyons then arose and commenced his argument for 
the plaintiff. He explained to the jury the issue 
they had been sworn to try, and how it had been 
narrowed down, by the decision of the court on the 
law, to a simple calculation of the difference be- 
tween the JS144 actually paid, and the value of six 
teen thousand pounds of tobacco at fifty shillings per 
hundred. He was not content to rest his case, how- 
ever, on the bare application of the law to the facts 
proved, but, recognizing the existence of popular feel- 
ing against the clergy, he attempted to disarm it by 
a highly wrought eulogium upon their benevolence. 

Mr. Henry had studied profoundly his case. To 
him it was not a mere matter of dollars and cents, 
but involved the dearest rights of the people as he 
had learned them from the pages of English history. 
While he brooded over this thought he felt the quick- 
ening of a hitherto unknown genius, which, under the 
powerful stimulus of his first great cause, was to burst 
forth into full flower. The man and the occasion had 
met, and both were to be ever afterward famous. 

He rose to reply to Mr. Lyons with apparent em- 
barrassment and some awkwardness, and beiran a 
faltering exordium. The people huig their heada 
at the unpromising commencement, and the clergy 



were obaenred to exchange aly looks with each 
other, while his father sank back in his chair in evi- 
dent confusion. All this was of short duration how- 
ever. As he proceeded and warmed up with his 
subject, a wondrous change came over him. His 
attitude became erect and lofty, his face lighted up 
with genius, and his eyes seemed to flash fire ; 
his gesture became graceful and impressive, his voice 
and his emphasis peculiarly charming. His appeals , 
to the passions were overpowering. In the language 
of those who heard him, " he made their blood to 
run cold, and their hair to rise on end." In a word, 
to the astonishment of all, he suddenly burst upon 
them as an orator of the highest order. The sur- 
prise of the people was only equalled by their de- 
light, and so overcome was his father that tears 
flowed profusely down his cheeks. 

The line of argument taken in this celebrated 
speech has been preserved by the plaintifE, in a let. 
ter written a few days aftei'ward to the Rev. John 
Camm,' and by Captain Thomas Trevilian, one of 
the audience, who related for years afterward one 
of the passages.* From these aoorcea the following 
outline of the speech is taken. 

Mr. Henry commenced by stating his view of the 
issues involved in the case. He then entered upon 
^ ^iacnsmon of the mutual rglatjoTip and i-RffipropAl 
duties gf ^ht king and hia fliibjf^rtB He maintained 
t hat governmen t was a conditional compact, com- 
posed of mutual and dependent covenants, the king 
stipulating protection on the one hand, and the peo- 
ple stipulating obedience and support on the other. 

' Hemoirs of » Bn(n>eiiDt Family, 418. 
< VB. LetUr of N. Pop« to Hi. Wlit. 


He declared that a violation of these covenants by 
either party discharged the other from obligation. 
He claim^ that in the colonial government the 
Burgesses represented the House of Commons, the 
Council the House of Lords, and the Governor the 
King, and that a law approved by these should be 
deemed valid until it was disallowed. He then took 
up the act of 1758, and discussed its provisions, and 
the necessities of the people which caused its enact- 
ment. He contended that it had every character- 
istic of a good law, that it was a law of general 
utility, and could not be annulled consistently with 
the compact between the King and people ; that the 
disallowance by the King of this salutary act was 
an instance of misrule, and neglect of the interests 
of the colony, which made it necessary that they 
should provide for their own safety by adhering 
to the directions of the act ; and that by this con- 
duct the King, from being the father of his people, 
had degenerated into a tyrant, and forfeited all 
right to his subjects' obedience to his order regard- 
ing it. At this point Mr. Lyons cried out with 
warmth, '^ The gentleman has spoken treason, and I 
am astonished that your Worships can hear it with- 
out emotion, or any mark of dissatisfaction." At 
the same instant among some gentlemen behind the 
bar there was a confused murmur of "Treason! 
Treason ! " Mr. Henry paid no attention to the 
interruption, but continued in the same strain, 
without receiving any sign of disapprobation from 
the bench, which sat spell-bound by his eloquence, 
while some of the jury nodded their approbation. 
Passing from this topic, the speaker next discussed 
the relations of the clergy to the people. He con- 

tended that the only use of an established church 
and clergy in society is to enforce obedience to 
ci^il sanctions, and the observance of those which 
are called duties of imperfect obligation; that when 
a clergy cease to answer these ends, the community 
have no further need of their ministry, and may justly 
strip them of their appointments ; that the clergy 
of Virginia, in this particular instance of their refus- 
ing to acquiesce in the law in question, so far from 
answering, had most notoriously counteracted those 
great ends of their institution ; that therefore, instead 
of useful members of the State, they ouglit to be 
considered as enemies of the community ; and that 
in the case now before them, Mr. Manry, instead of 
coanteoance and protection and damages, very justly 
deserved to be punished with signal severity. While 
discussing this part of his subject, he said, as Cap- 
tain Trevilian relates, " "We have heard a great deal 
about the benevolence and holy zeal of our reverend 
clergy, but how is this manifested ? Do they mani- 
fest their zeal in the cause of religion and humanity 
by practising the mild and benevolent precepts of 
the GJospel of Jesus ? Do they feed the hungry and 
clothe the naked? Oh, no, gentlemen ! Instead of^ 
feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, these 
rapacious harpies would, were their powers equal to 
their will, snatch from the heai-th of their honest 
parishioner hia last hoe-cake, fi'om the widow and 
her orphan children their last milch cow ! the last 
bed, nay, the last blanket from the lying-in woman I " 
These words, uttered with all the power of the 
orator, aroused in the audience an intense feeling 
against the clergy, which became so apparent as to 
cause the reverend gentlemen to leave their seats 


on the bench, and to quit the court-honae in dis- 

iThe speaker, continuing, described the bondage of 
a people who were denied the privLl^;e of enacting 
their own laws, and told the jnry that, unless they 
were disposed to rivet the chains of bondage on their 
necks, he hoped they would not let slip the oppor- 
tunity, which waa now offered, of making such an ex- 
ample of the plaintiff, as might hereafter be a warn- 
ing to himself and to his brethren not to dispute the 
validity of such laws, authenticated by the only 
authority which in his conception could give force 
to laws for the government of the colony, Uie au- 
thority of a House of Burgesses, of a Council, and 
of a kind, benevolent, and patriotic Governor. He 
added that, under the ruling of the court, they must 
find for the plaintiff, but they need not find more 
than one farthing, and that this would accomplish 
all that the defence desired. 

When he had concluded, after speaking about an 
hour, his associate declined to add anything to the 
defence, and Mr. Lyons closed the case for the plain- 
tiff, vainly endeavoring to break the force of Mr. 
Henry's speech. When he sat down the jury retired 
to consult, and in less than five minutes returned 
with a verdict of one penny damages for the plain- 
tifF. Mr. Lyons objected to receiving the verdict, 
insisting that it was contrary to the evidence, and 
asked that the jury be sent out again. This motion 
the court promptly overruled, and ordered the ver- 
dict to be recorded. He then moved for a new trial, 
which was also refused ; and, lastly, he prayed for 
an appeal to the General Court, which was granted. 



Tie feelings of the excited people, which with diffi- 
culty had been restrained, now overleaped all bounds, 
and, wild with delight, tbey seized their champion 
and bore him on their shoulders in triumph around . 
the court-yard. He had not only proved himself I 
to be an orator of the highest order, mastering the I 
emotions and judgment of his audience, but he had I 
openly and powerfully attacked the tyranny in. 
Church and State, which all felt and yet no one had 
been bold enough to denounce. It is said that the 
people who heard this famous speech never tired of 
talking of it, and they could pay no higher compli- 
ment to a speaker aftei'ward than to say of him, 
" He is almost equal to Patrick Henry when he 
plead against the parsons." ^ 

Colonel John Henry's feelings were modestly ex- 
pressed a few days afterward to Judge Edmund 
Winston in these words : " Patrick spoke near an 
hoar, without hesitation or embarrassment, and in 
a manner that surprised me, and showed himself 
well informed on a subject of which I did not know 
he had any knowledge." * 

In the hour of his triumph Mr. Henry, with a 
generosity characteristic of him, sought Mr. Maury, 
smarting under his defeat and the attack upon hia 
class, in order that he might disclaim any personal 
ill-will toward him or them. Mr. Maury, in his 
letter to Mr. Camm, gives an account of this inter- 
view and of the impression the day's occurrences 
made npon him. He wrote : 

"After the court was adjourned, he apologized 
to me for what he had said, alleging that his sole 

■ mrfaHMuy, 40. *HS. Letter (d Jnago Wliut<m to Hr. Wirt. 


view in engaging in the cause, and in saying what 
he had, was to render himself popular. You see, 
then, it is so clear a point in this person's opinion 
that the ready road to popularity here is to trample 
under foot the interests oi religion, the rights of the 
Church, and the prerogative oi the Crown, If this 
be not pleading for the * assumption of a power to 
bind the King^ hands,' if it be not asserting * such 
supremacy in provincial legislation' as is incon- 
sistent with the dignity of the Church of England, 
and manifestly tends to draw the people of these 
plantations from their allegiance to the King, tell 
me, my dear sir, what is so, if you can. Mr. Cootes, 
merchant on James River, after court, said 'he 
would have given a considerable sum out of his 
own pocket, rather than his friend Patrick should 
have been guilty of a crime but little, if anything, 
inferior to that which brought Simon, Lord Lovatt, 
to the block ; ' and justly observed that he exceeded 
the most seditious and inflammatory harangues of 
the tribunes of old Rome." ^ 

Mr. Cootes (or Coutts), who thus at once indi- 
cated his affection for the King and the treasonable 
advocate, had been Mr. Henry's first client. He 
fairly represented the high Toryism which was 
characteristic of the Scotch merchants who lived in 

The clergy were greatly irritated, and more than 
hinted that Mr. Hemy, whom they styled "an ob- 
scure attorney," should be prosecuted for treason, 
and, it is said, furnished the Crown officers of the 
colony with a list of names as witnesses. No prose- 
cution, however, was attempted. Tnisting to the 
appellate courts, the clergy continued the struggle. 

' Memoirs of a Huguenot Fftxnily, 438. 

In 1764 the Rev. Patrick Heniy, through Mr. 
Lyons, his attorney, instituted a suit in Hanover 
against Henry Thomptins, late collector of St. 
Paul's parish, for the tobacco due him for the year 
1759. This suit was defended by his nephew as at- 
torney for the defendant, and was allowed to be 
continued till the result of Mr. Camm's suit was 
known, and was then dismissed. 

During the same year the case of the Rev. Mr. 
Camm was tried before the Governor and his Council, 
sitting as a general court, Robert Carter Nicholas ap- 
pearing for the defence, and was decided against the 
plaintiff, on the ground that the act was in force tUl 
disallowed by the King. The majority thus voting 
were John Blair, John Taylor, William Byrd, Pres- 
ley Thornton, and Robert Bnrwell. TTie minority, 
who voted to give damages, were Richard Corbin, 
Peter Randolph, Philip Ladwell Lee, and Robert 
Carter. There were two members, Thomas and 
William Nelson, who excused themselves from vot- 
ing, being parishioners of Mr. Camm. They would 
have changed the decision. Governor Fauquier, was 
not required to vote, as there was no tie, but he never* 
theless declared his belief that the act was bind- 

Mr. Camm appealed to the Privy ConncU in Eng- 
land, and pending his appeal the court refused to 
hear any other similar case. The appeal was 
heard in 1767, and the decision of the General Court 
was affirmed, on the ground, it is said, that Mr. 
Gamm'a soit was improperly brought, and without 
going into the merits. This was believed to be, 
and doubtless was, but a pretext to get rid of a 
troablesome question, for the discussion of which 


the times were not then suited. Thus the clergy 
saw the men who had advised Mr. Camm to bring 
his suit in 1760, vote to dismiss it in 1767, for po- 
litical reasons. 

This decision settled the litigation of the clergy 
in Virginia, and they found that, instead of gaining 
their salaries, they had greatly weakened their hold 
upon the public, and had given a fresh impulse to 
the spirit of dissent, already grown strong in the 
colony. Not only so, but the struggle greatly 
strained the bond between the King 'and the colo- 
nists, and was the prelude to the great contest which 
snapped that bond asunder, the keynote to which 
Mr. Henry had boldly struck. 

The argument of the " Parsons' Cause " increased 
Mr. Henry's practice greatly. During the first year 
afterwards his fee book shows that he entered the 
names of 164 new clients, and charged 665 fees. In 
that year he was called to Williamsburg to represent 
his fnend Captain Nathaniel West Dandridge, before 
the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the As- 
sembly, in a contest with James Littlepage, the re- 
turned member. It is doubtful whether he had ever 
visited Williamsbui'g before. If he had done so, it 
was in no way to attract attention, and he was per- 
sonally known to but few of the persons he now met. 
The session of the Assembly, and the vice-regal state 
in which the Governor lived, caused the town to be 
filled with an elegant society, which strikingly con- 
trasted with the plain society in which he lived. He 
is said to have appeared in country garb, and wher- 
ever he went attracted the attention of the curiouA 
Judge Tyler has given the following account of his 
appearance before the committee : 



" The proud airs of aristocracy, added to the dig- 
nified forms of that truly august body, were enough 
to have deterred any man possessing less firmness 
and independence of spirit than Mr. Henry. He 
was ushered with great state and ceremony into the 
room of the committee, whose chairman was Colonel 
Bland. Mr. Henry was dressed in very coarae ap- 
parel ; no one knew anything of him, and scarcely 
was he treated with decent respect by anyone ex- 
cept the chainnan, who could not do so much vio- 
lence to bis feelings and principles as to depart, on 
any occasion, from the delicacy of the gentleman. 
But the general contempt was soon changed into a 

general admiration, for Mr. Henry distinguished 
imself by a copious and brilliant display on the 
great subject of the riglits of suffrage, siiperior to 
anything that had been heard before withm those 
walls. Such a burst of eloquence from a man so 
very plain and ordinary in appearance struck the 
committee with amazement, so that a deep and 
perfect silence took place during the speech, and not 
a sound, but from Eis lips, was to be heard in the 

Judge Winston says : * 

" Some time after, a member of the House, speak- 
ing to me of this occurrence, said he had for n 
day or two observed an ill-dressed young man saun- 
tering in the lobby, that he seemed to be a stranger 
to everybody, and he had not the curiosity to in- 
quire his name, but that attending when the case 
of a contested election came on, he was surprised to 
find this same person counsel for one of the parties, 
and still more so, when he delivered an argument 
superior to anything he ever heard." 

■ mrf ■ HeniT, 58. * Id., S9. 


The repoi*t of the evidence in the case is spread 
upon the journal, and shows that an efEort had been 
made to get Mr. Henry to offer himself for the vacant 
seat, and that so great was his popularity in the 
county, that the other candidate would have prob- 
ably retired in his favor. But he was not yet ready 
to engage in public life. He was trying to attain in- 
dependence by the practice of his profession. At this 
period of his life he had not overcome his passion for 
hunting. He is represented as often appearing at his 
courts in his hunting garb, fresh from the chase, but 
always ready when his cases were called, and if they 
allowed any scope for the advocate, invariably en- 
chanting court and jury by his wonderful eloquence. 
Ever after the "Parsons' Cause," his manner of 
speaking was irresistibly captivating, even when the 
subject seemed trivial One who was often his ad- 
versary, Judge Peter Lyons, says of him : 

" I could write a letter or draw a declaration 
or plea at the bar with as much accuracy as I 
could in my office, under all circumstances, exo^ 
when Patrick rose to ^edk ; but whenever he rose, 
although it might be on so trifling a subject as a 
summons and petition for twenty shillings, I was 
obliged to lay down my pen, and could not write 
another word until the speech was finished." ' 

It is easy to understand that Mr. Henry's reputa- 
tion went abroad after the " Parsons' Cause," and 
that he was considered the most eloquent advocate 
ID the colony. 



Qmm of TioaUw between Kigland aod the AmetlMii OokxdaB. — 
Obaitn Bight!.— Zioaal OoTenuiunte.— Tlrgisia Evij OUOi 
tha Sola lU^t to Thx HoiwU.— OomnunU Beatrfotliai.— 
(MooU OoramiMtit ia BnglMid.— I<iwb o( Ximde.— Power of 
ftaUemanL-^Eflbrt at Union in 17B1.— DefsBt ot F]aaM,-iuam 
OtimdWiitofrfSeuioh.— Wkt between England ■udFtenee. — 
Feaee of Paris in 1768, end Immense TeiniUaj Second to Ei^- 
luid in America.— Joy in Amecioa.— Taxation of America F»>> 
poaad in Parliament. — Parties Oreated by it. — Protests against 
It. — The Stamp Aot.^Its Beoeption in Ameiioa. — Snbmisaioii 
Expected and Prepared for in the Colonies.— What would h»Te 
been its Effect. 

While Mr. Henry was wmniDg his high position at 
the bar, the political troubles between England and 
her American colonies were assuming a serious as- 
pect, lliose troubles were the result of a series of 
mistakes on the part of the mother country on the 
one side, and of the independent, restless spirit 
which pervaded the colonies on the other. That 
spirit was the outgrowth of the principles of liberty 
brought over by men fleeing from oppression, and 
nourished in communities of pioneers, whose con- 
stant exposure to danger rendered them self-reliant 
and brave, who hated arbitrary power, and rejoiced 
in the liberty of thought and action which was 
characteristic of the Western World. 

The charter granted by King Jamea on April 10, 
1606, to the London Company which planted the 


first permanent English colonies in America, con- 
tained the following provision : 

" Also we do, for us, our heirs, and successors, de- 
clare, by these presents, that all and every the per- 
sons, being our subjects, which shall dwell and in- 
habit witmn every or any of the said colonies and 
plantations, and every of their children, which shall 
happen to be born within any of the limits and pre- 
cincts of the said several colonies and plantations, 
shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises, and 
immunities, within any of our other dominions, to 
all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding 
and bom within this our realm of England, or any 
other of our said dominions." 

Similar provisions are found in all subsequent 
charters. With this distinct : pledge that they 
were to enjoy all the " liberties, franchises, and im- 
munities" of Englishmen, the several English 
American colonies were settled by men who left 
their homes in the Old World, and risked their 
lives in subduing the forests and the savages of the 
New. Had their charters not contained such a pro- 
vision, however, still Englishmen acknowledging 
allegiance to Great Britain would have been enti- 
tled, wherever resident, to all the " liberties, fran* 
chises, and immunities " of British subjects ; and 
men of other nationalities becoming citizens of Brit- 
ish colonies and subjects of the British Crown, 
would equally have become entitled to the rights of 
native-born Englishmen. 

The several colonies, separated by an ocean from 
the mother country, instinctively organized local 
governments, Virginia leading the way, and in doing 


80 carried free institations much beyond wliat the 
colonists had enjoyed in the Old World. They 
claimed and enjo]^ trial by jury and the writ of 
habeas corpus, the great guardians of person and 
property. But in addition, each colony enacted 
laws for itself in its own General Assembly, 
and the elective franchise was far more liberal 
than in England, even at this day. The Gover* 
nor was ordinarily appointed by the King, and was 
r^arded as his representative, the Council was ap- 
pointed, or nominated, by the Governor, and was 
the representative of the House of Lords, while the 
House of Burgesses, elected by the people, repre- 
sented the House of Commons. 

In June, 1619, Governor Yeardley convened the 
first Virginia Assembly, which was the first repre- 
sentative body that ever sat in America. As early 
as 1624, ten years before any other colony had an 
assembly, this body declared, that " The Governor 
shall not lay any taxes or ympositions upon the 
colony, their lands or comodities, otherway than 
by the authority of the General Assembly, to be 
levyed and ymployed as the said Assembly shall 
appoynt" ^ Thus the Virginians from the first 
claimed the protection of the great piinciple which 
has proved the bulwark of British liberty,* and 
for which so much blood has been shed. This 
claim was reasserted from time to time by Virginia, 
and the other colonies followed her example. 

Until Cromwell ruled in England the trade of the 
colonies was open to all the world. But that great 
ruler, finding that the Dutch were monopolizing the 

1 HeniDg : Statutes at Large, i, 124. 

' De Lolme on the Coiutitation of Bngland, oh, zz. 


carrying trade of the world, to the great injury of 
British shipping, caused an act to be passed in 1651, 
requiring that the commerce of England with all the 
world should be conducted in ships solely owned, and 
principally manned, by Englishmen. This act was 
not seriously objected to, and not rigidly enforced, 
in the colonies. But the same parliament that re- 
stored Charles 11. passed another navigation act, by 
which, not content with protecting English shipping, 
it was sought to give a complete monopoly to the 
English merchants of the commerce of the colonies, 
now become exceedingly valuable. By this act, and 
its amendment in 1663, all the colonial trade, both 
import and export, was required to be in English 
bottoms and with Englishmen. It was only when 
there was no sale for them in England, that articles 
raised in America could be carried to some other 
country. By another amendment the liberty of free 
traffic between the colonies was taken away, and a 
duty imposed on intercolonial trade equal to that 
requii'ed on exports to England. 

For more than a century this harsh and irritat- 
ing policy was pursued, every amendment having 
for its object, the more thorough establishment of 
the monopoly of the commerce of the colonies in 
the hands of British merchants. That the colonists 
were justified in considering these navigation acts 
oppressive, we have the judgment of the great ex- 
pounder of political economy, Adam Smith, who in 
his " Wealth of Nations " pronounced them, " a mani- 
fest violation of the rights of mankind ; " and of 
the most profound statesman of his day, Edmund 
Burke, who said of them in his speech on American 
taxation, that be thought the system, " if uncompen- 


airtsdf ti Ike ft eondition of u i^oroiu nrritade as 
n«Bi«ttibeMibj«e<ilb." * ' 

." ^3w' eUMtaMBt of' these Iawb mi witfaont ezonw^ 
«toept to gratify tbe ftvarioe of British merohantft 
^Hh) rename derived l^'the state wae trifling, whtls 
llw profits to the En^liditnden were eiioriiMHU. Bat 
nBiwerthe £iif^h Ooverament nor the English mo^- 
cdUttlB had any just r^ht to profit at.tiie ezpeOKf 
ol the ocdonies. They had been planted by jmrate 
enterprise and at no cost to the Goremment, and tbia 
eUBpaoy, which at the greatest expense luid made tto 
ftst jdwitaticHiB, had been deprived of their charter 
by the King when their venture had begun to be 
profitabla Nor was the claim of protection by the 
mother country, as compensation for the monopoly, 
a good one. The only expenee that was incurred in 
protecting the colonies was in wars which had been 
b^;nn in Europe and transferred to America. The 
connectioQ of the colonies with England caused their 
peril in these, and they were not justly chargeable 
by England with the cost of ware, which would not 
have a£Qicted them had they not belonged to her. 

The only compensation which Burke could see for 
the hardships of the navigation acts, was in the fact 
that English capital was used in fostering the in- 
dustries of the colonies ; but there can be no donbt 
that had they been left free to sell where they could 
sell highest, and buy where they could buy lowest, 
they would not only have accumulated capital 
more rapidly, but they would have interested the 
capital of all nations in their industries. 

Such obnoxious laws were liable to evasion, but 
so law-abiding were the colonies, that these evasions 
were not believed by Burke to be more frequent 


than occurred on the coasts of England, in refer- 
ence to the laws of trade with other nationa 
They were met by more stringent enactments, 
among which was the grant of general writs to 
the officers of customs, by which they were author- 
ized to search when and where they pleased. These 
writs were considered injurious to the rights of the 
colonists, and their issue by the court of Massachu- 
setts was resisted by James Otis, in February, 1761, 
in a speech of great eloquence and power, in which he 
argued that the law was opposed to the British Con- 
stitution, and that ^^ an act of Parliament against the 
Constitution is void." This bold declaration was 
treasured by the people, and inflamed their spirit of 
resentment against the oppressive law. But the 
subservient court issued the writs, and they were 
submitted to by the Colony. 

Among the imports were African slaves in lai^e 
numbers. This wicked traffic was the subject of 
protest by the colonies, time and again, and by none 
more strenuously than by Virginia, which went so 
far as to pass an act prohibiting it. But from the 
days of " Good Queen Anne," a large share of the 
enormous profits made by the traders went into 
the coffers of the British sovereigns, and the laws 
interfering with the traffic were disapproved and 
annulled by them.^ 

In spite of all restrictions, the trade of the colo- 
nies increased with their population, making Eng- 
land rich, and laying the foundation of her commer- 
cial and maritime greatness. Grievous as these' 
restrictions were, the right of Parliament to lay 

* See Tyler's Life of Chief Jiutiioe Taney, Appendix, for a statement 
of this interest of the British soTereigns in tiie sUve trade. 


fhem was not denied by the colonies, which drew 
a distinction between external and internal taza- 

The assent of the King, either in person or 
through the Governors acting under his instruc- 
tions, was necessary to give validity to the laws 
enacted by the colonial Assemblies, and his dissent 
was sufficient to render the acts null and void. His 
assent was often long delayed, and sometimes when 
given the acts had become useless, because the oc- 
casion of their enactment had passed by. Frequently 
the acts most needed were disallowed. 

The manner in which colonial affairs were consid- 
ered conduced to this criminal mismanagement. All 
matters touching the colonies were first considered 
by the Board of Commissioners for Trade and Plan- 
tations, who gave information and advice concern- 
ing them to the Secretary of State having tbem in 
charge. This Board, called the " Lords of Trade," 
had no power to enforce their recommendations, no 
voice in the Cabinet, and no access to the King. 
Its very feebleness made it impatient of contradic- 
tion, and being constantly at variance with the As- 
semblies, it was disposed to suggest the harshest 
measures. At more than one period, the Lords of 
Trade proposed to take away the liberal chartei-s 
under which the colonies were planted, and reduce 
them to subjection by destroying the independence 
of their Assemblies. In the reign of James II., 
whose tyranny cost him his throne, this scheme was 
carried into effect in New England, but the revolu- 
tion of 1688, which seated William and Mary, re- 
stored to the colonies their lost liberties. 

1 Burke's Hutozy of Virginia, iii., 288-4. 


By this great revolation, so memorable in the his- 
tory of England, the power of Parliament was firmly 
established, and aa a conseqaence that body has 
since become the ruler of the nation, and the sover- 
eign simply the execative of its wilL The dangers 
which the colonies thereafter experienced, were no 
longer from encroachmentB on their righta by the 
throne, but by Parliament. 

The French extended their forts from Canada to 
the month of the Mississippi, claiming the rich val- 
leys of the Ohio and MisaiBsippi, and the coantry to 
tbe west, and exciting the Indiana to hostilities with 
the English. So detrimental had their conduct be- 
come, that the Lords of Trade, in 1754, advised a 
meeting of commissioners from the several colonies 
for the purpose of strengthening their treaties with 
the Indians, and devising a plan of onion for the de- 
fence of all the colonies, and for the extension of their 
eettlementB. This convention, representing seven 
colonies, met at Albany, June 19, 1754, and recom- 
mended a plan of union, drawn up by Benjamin 
Franklin, one of the delegates from Pennsylvania, 
which contained the germinal ideas of the American 
Union. It provided for a general government, to 
be administered by an executive appointed and 
supported by the Crown, and a Grand Council, to be 
composed of members chosen by the colonial Ae- 
semblies, with power to make laws and lay and levy 
general duties, imposts, and taxes. The plan was not 
approved by the colonies, because it contained too 
much of prerogative, nor by the Lords of Trade, who 
deemed it too democratic. Another plan was sent 
from England for adoption, whereby the Governors 
of all the colonies, attended by one or two members of 


tfafr w wp wti Te OdnnmlB^ were to aMemble and con-' 
eert meuaraB lar tlw defeaoe of tiie! whole, ereet 
fitf tewh ere tfiay jn^^ proper, and raise what iroopa 
HuBf thought neoeowj, with power to draw on 1^ 
Tnamuy for &e sQaa thai dionld be wanted, tiw 
^foviBarjtbbe reirabnned bfataz hnd on the oolo* 
jtSBi by Act 01 FaniaiiMBt. 

- Thn plan was eomnranumted to Franklin by Oor- 
anoit Shirley, o( Mawaohruntte^ with the reqoeat 
Iftift he gire hifviewe i^on ite provisionB. The 
iMCen he soit in reply state with great eleanesa 
tiw lebrtions of the odonies to SSnj^bnd, and the 
r^t claimed by themi to be taxed only through 
their own Assemblies.' These letters had the effect 
of preventing the Governor from urging the plan of 
the Lords of Trade. 

The colonies adopting no plan of union for de- 
fence, their protection devolved on £ngland, whose 
war with France caused them to be put in peril. 
The terrible defeat of Braddock caused England 
to leave them to their fate. But Franklin, hav- 
ing been sent to London in 1757, as the agent for 
Fenn^Ivania, found that Pitt had been made Prime 
Minister, and that the belm of state was already re- 
sponding to the band of his transcendent genius. 
He at once proposed to the ministry to send another 
army to America, charged with the conquest of 
Canada and the French possessiona He urged that 
this was the true way to fight France, instead of 
engaging her in Europe, because defeating her in 
America meant the acquisition by England of the 
territory north and west of her colonies. Pitt at 
once acted on the suggestion, and the capture of 

I FiuUiii'i Work*, ToL III., 67-08. 



Quebec by Wolfe and the driving of the French 
from North America were the result. 

In after life Franklin, in relating the fate of his 
plan of union proposed at the Albany convention, 
said : ^' It would have been happy for both sides if it 
had been adopted. The colonies so united would 
have been sufficiently strong to have defended them- 
selves; there would then have been no need of 
troops from England. Of course, the subsequent 
pretext for taxing America and the bloody contest 
it occasioned would have been avoided." Philoso- 
pher as he was, he did not recognize the hand 
of Providence, which, rejecting his seemingly wise 
plan, brought on . step by step the American Revo- 
lution, and which prepared the continent for the 
future American Republic by first giving so large 
a part of it to the English, to be wrested from 
them by the United States in their War of Inde- 

By the treaty of Paris, in 1763, her conquests in 
America were secured to England, and she was left 
in possession of all North America, except New Or- 
leans, the Floridas, and Louisiana west of the Missis- 
sippi, which were held by Spain. The genius of 
Pitt had not only extricated England from the dan- 
gers which a series of disasters had brought upon her, 
but had added a vast territory to her possessions, 
and had advanced her to the highest place among 
the nations of the earth. 

In no part of her dominions was there more true 
joy at the result than in the American colonies. 
James Otis gave expression to their joyful anticipa- 
tions and genuine loyalty, when, at a Boston town 
meeting, he exclaimed: "We in America have 


abundant reason to rejoica The heathen are driven 
out, and the Canadians conquered. The British do- 
minion now extends from sea to sea, and from the 
great rivers to the end of the eartL Liberty and 
knowledge, civil and religious, will co-extend, im- 
proved and preserved, to the latest posterity." And 
extolling the British Constitution and the union 
between Great Britain and her colonies, he said, 
"What God in his providence has united, let no 
man dare attempt to pull asunder." 

But these bright anticipations of a happy future 
were soon turned into the gloomiest forebodings. 
In 1763, Parliament renewed the tax on sugar and 
molasses imported into the, and steps were 
taken for the rigid enforcement of this and the navi- 
gation acts. All officers, civil, militaiy, and naval, 
were constituted Custom House officials, and re- 
quired to break up all illicit traffic by seizures, to be 
carried before courts of admiralty presided over by 
appointees of the Crown, in which trials by jury 
were not allowed. Large emoluments in cases of 
forfeiture were given to the officers making the seiz- 
ures. Of course their proceedings became oppres- 
sive in the highest degree, and the more so as practi- 
cally there was no appeal, so great was the cost and 
difficulty of obtaining a hearing before the Privy- 
Council in England. 

Soon the colonies were informed by their agents 
that the ministry of the young King, George III., 
from which Pitt had been driven, designed to alter 
the colonial charters so as to destroy the influence of 
their Assemblies, to quarter a standing army in their 
midst, and to impose a tax on the colonies with 
which that army should be supported, and a revenue 


be derived to England, burdened with an enormous 
debt by her late wars, 

George Grenville, succeeding the Earl of Bute in 
the Ministry, abandoned the scheme of changing the 
chailers, but informed the colonial agents that it was 
fully determined to impose a tax, and that a stamp 
tax had been determined on, unless the colonies 
would suggest one equally efficient ; and in order 
that they might have an opportunity of doing so, 
the tax would not be pressed until the next session 
of Parliament. Accordingly, on March 9, 1764, he 
read in the House of Commons resolutions declara- 
tory of this purpose, the execution of which he asked 
might be deferred, until the colonies could be heard 
from. These resolutions were agreed to on the 1 7th 
of the month in Committee of the Whole, and were 
heartily approved by the King, who, in proroguing 
Parliament on April 19, spoke of " the wise regu- 
lations which had been established to augment the 
public revenues, to unite the interests of the most 
distant possessions of the Crown, and to encourage 
and secure their commerce with Great Britain." 
How little he dreamed of the stupendous folly of 
the proposed legislation ! 

The Declaratory Resolves caused the greatest sen- 
sation throughout America. Men everywhere en- 
tered upon the discussion of the constitutional and 
chartered rights of the colonies, and as the discussion 
progressed in the press, in public meetings, and in 
legislative assemblies, parties were formed. The op- 
ponents of the tax were called " Whigs," and " Pat- 
riots," and the supporters of the administration were 
called " Loyalists," " Tories," and " Friends of Gov- 


ThBi fiatiiimbllo meetiiig in which oppoeition to 
the jm^KMed ia/L wm indicated, assembled in Faq^ 
eidl WKin the town of Boston, on Hay 34,.1764. 
Thiajntietinginstnietedthttr representatives in Uie 
AipgjnMy, In a paper prepared by Samnel Afi*mi|i, ^ 
ff[»poae.1he proposed tax as snbyersiTe of their rights, 
Md'direoted that an effort be made to engage tiie 
othw oo](>nie8. in s tmited protest against it The 
Gflnenl. Court, as the Assembly was styled, met six 
days, afterwa^ and James Otis, a member from 
Bocrton, was the leading spirit By his inBnenoe its 
action was cast in the mogld of these instrootiima. 
- Almost all of the ooloniee, through their Aseem- 
blies, protested in earnest and able papers against 
the proposed tax. The Virginift Assembly met in 
November, 1764. On December 18 a committee 
reported an address to the King, a memorial to the 
House of Lords, and a remonstrance to the Honse of 
Commons. The first and second of these papers 
were drawn by Richard Henry Lee, and the third 
by George "Wythe. For ability and spirit in pre- 
senting the cause of the colonies, they compare fa- 
vorably with any sent to England.' Yet they evi- 
dently anticipated no opposition beyond remon- 
strance, and this may be said of all the papers sent 
from the other colonies. 

The British Ministry had only asked the colonies 
to indicate the tax most acceptable to tbem, not to 
furnish reasons why they should not be taxed. A 
tax had been determined on, and the protest of the 
colonies against the right to levy it, only made them 
the more determined to establish the right by ex- 
ercising it. On February 6, 1765, Grenville pro- 

I 8m tlwm la Wlif ■ Hoatj, Appendix, 


posed to the Committee of Ways and Means of the 
whole House fifty-five resolutions, embracing the 
details of a Stamp Act for America, and making all 
offences against it cognizable in Courts of Admi- 
ralty. In his speech he urged that the right of the 
colonies to protection at the hands of Parliament, 
gave Parliament the right to enforce a revenue from 
them ; that protection meant an army, and an army 
must be paid, and this required the levy -of taxes ; 
that the debt of England was one hundred and forty 
millions sterling, while America only owed eight 
hundred thousand pounds, and paid only seventy- 
five thousand pounds annually for the support of 
its government. He claimed that their chai*ters in- 
terposed no obstacle to a parliamentary tax, and if 
they did, they were subject to the control of Parlia- 
ment and could be altered ; and finally he claimed 
that the colonies were constructively represented in 
Parliament, which was the common council of the 
whole empire, and could legislate for all parts in all 

The motion was opposed by AJderman Beckford, 
Richard Jackson, Colonel Isaac Barr^, and Greneral 
H. 8. Conway, the last two of whom had been dis- 
missed from the army because of their independent 
course in Parliament. Colonel Barr6 had accom- 
panied the gallant Wolfe in his American campaign, 
and knew personally the American character and 
the grievances of the colonies. His reply to Charles 
Townshend's attack on the colonists made him fa- 
mous. In it he called the Americans Sons of Lib- 
erU/^ and on the report of his speech the party of 
the '^ Patriots" added these words to their name. 
In this debate only Beckford and Conway questioned 


tbe power of Parliament to impose the iax. Pitt 
■waM not in liis seat. In his speeoh tu^png the repeal 
of tiie act, delivered in Jannaty, 1766, he said : 
** "When the reeolntion was taken in the Honse to 
tax America I was ill in bed. If I coold have en> 
dmnd to hare been carried in my bed, so great was 
the agitation of my mind for the consequences, I 
wonld have solicited some kind hand to hare laid 
me down on this floor to hare borne my testimony 
against it" 

On Febroary 37, 1765, the Stamp Act passed the 
"Haaao ai Commons, which refosed even to allow the 
protests of the colonies to be read. On March 8, 
it was f^reed to by the Lords, without division or 
debate. On March 22, the royal assent was given 
by a commission, the King having become insane.' 

In passing the Act Parliament reOected the will 
of its constitnents. Dr. Franklin, after doing all 
in his power to prevent its passage, wrote : " The 
tide was too strong against us. The nation was pro- 
voked by American claims of independence (of the 
power of Parliament), and all parties joined by re- 
solving in this Act to settle the point. We might as 
well have hindered the sun's setting." 

The Act was to go into operation on November I, 
1765, and was so contrived as to enforce itseli 
Unless stamps were used marrit^;es would be null, 
obligations valueless, ships at sea prizes to the first 
captor, alienations of real estate invalid, inheritances 
irreclaimable, legal proceedings impossible. 

It was not doubted in England or America that 

■ A oonoiM itetement of the oondiiot of England towud tho ooloniM, 
with » fnU Uat of MithorftiM, wHI be found in WluMW*! NamtlTa and 
Critioal Hlatoir of Amuioa, vL, olu^ 1, 


the Act would be enforced. James Otis had said in 
1764, '^ It is our duty to submit" ^ The legislature 
of Massachusetts had said, '^We yield obedience 
to the Act granting duties." ' When the Act was 
first proposed the agents of the colonies showed no 
disposition to oppose it,' and in no colony had the 
ground been taken that the tax, if imposed, should 
be resisted. 

Grenville expected, however, that the submission 
would be by men smarting under a feeling of wrong, 
and to avoid all unnecessary irritation he determined 
to select only Americans, and those of character and 
influence, to act as stamp distributors. He requested 
the colonial agents to select his appointees, and they 
complied with his request. Dr. Franklin naming 
John Hughes for Pennsylvania.* 

The intelligence of the passage of the Act caused 
the deepest despondency among the patriots of 
America. They had trusted that their earnest pro- 
test would cause it to be abandoned, but now that 
they realized the fact that the tax was imposed, 
and saw no way to escape it, they felt that a great 
political right, the comer-stone of English liberty, 
was about to be wrested from them forever. Resist- 
ance to the British authority was not proposed by 
the patriot leaders, and submission to the tax was 
the only alternative. In all the colonies unmis- 
takable signs were given of submission to the will 
of Parliament, but by a people greatly dissatis- 

1 Bights of the Colonies, p. 40. 
* Answer of Ooanoil and House, November 3, 1764. 
'Bancroft's United States, t., p. 180, ed. 1857. 
« Franklin to Dean Taoker. Works of Franklin, Sparks'a ediUon, It., 


The leading spirit in New England, James Otis, 
repelled the idea that there would be any resistance. 
He said : " It is the duty of all humbly, and silently, 
to acquiesce in all the decisions of the supreme legis- 
lature. Nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand 
of the colonists will never once entertain a thought 
but of submission to our Sovereign, and to the au- 
thority of Parliament in all possible contingencies. 
They undoubtedly have the right to levy internal 
taxes on the colonies." ^ With a knowledge of his sen- 
timents the town of Boston re-elected him to the 
Assembly in May, and that body re-elected Thomas 
Oliver as Councillor, although he had been appoint- 
ed a stamp distributor. On June 6 Otis prevailed 
on the body to propose to the colonies a congress, 
to meet in New York in October, " to consult to- 
gether on the present circumstances of the colonies, 
and the difficulties to which they are and must be 
reduced, by the operation of the Acts of Parliament 
for levying duties and taxes on the colonies ; and to 
consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal, and 
humble representation of their condition to his 
Majesty, and to the Parliament, and to implore re- 
lief." This, the only action taken by the Massachu- 
setts legislature, was aided by the royal Governor, 
Bernard, who thus gained control of the movement, 
and managed to have two "government men,'* 
Oliver Partridge and Timothy Ruggles, associated 
with Otis on the delegation from that colony.^ It 
is apparent, both from the expressed object of the 
call, and from the time fixed for the meeting of the 
convention, that it was expected that the act would 

» Bancroft, ▼. , 271. 

^ Gordon^s History of the American Revolution, yoL L, p. 120, 


go into operation before the result of its " humble 
representation " could be heard — indeed before it 
could reach England. Hutchinson, the Chief Jus- 
tice of the colony, wrote to the ministry five weeks 
after news of its passage : " The Stamp Act is re- 
ceived among us with as much decency as could be 
expected ; it leaves no room for evasion, and will exe- 
cute itself." ^ So little did the legislature of New 
Hampshire care for the Act, that it adjourned with- 
out even accepting the invitation of Massachusetts.' 
The colony of Rhode Island appeared ready to sub- 
mit to Parliament,' as did Connecticut* From New 
York Lieutenant-Governor Colden wrote to the 
Ministry that the passage of the Act caused no dis- 
turbance in that colony.'^ The legislature of New 
Jersey declined the invitation of Massachusetts to 
meet in a convention.' The legislature of Pennsyl- 
vania was in session when intelligence of the pas- 
sage of the Act was received at Philadelphia, but it 
adjourned without taking notice of it.'' The legis- 
lature of Delaware had no opportunity of taking 
action before the congress met in New York, on 
October 7, but no signs of resistance to the execu- 
tion of the Act appeared in that colony. The Gov- 
ernor of Maryland reported that the Act would be 
carried into execution.® In North Carolina the legis- 
lature, so far from resenting the passage of the Act, 
took steps, at the instance of Governor Tryon, to 
support the Church of England by a general tax, 
although many of the inhabitants were Dissenters.' 

> Bancroft, United States, y., 272. * Id., 298. 

» Gordon, vol i., 119. < Id., 117. 

* DocomentB Relating to the Colonial Histoiy of New York, yii,, 710. 

* Bancroft, y., 292. ^ Ck>xdon'B Histoxy of Penn^ylYania, p, 438. 

* Bancroft, y., 298. • Id., 271. 

The legislature of South Carolina did not meet till 
July, and no sign of resistance wa6 seen in that 
colony. Her legialatm-e, however, was the first to 
respond favorably to the call of Massachusetts." 
In Georgia the Act was deemed an equal mode of 
taxation, and it had been defended by Knox, the 
agent of the colony.' In Virginia the people pre- 
pared themselves to submit, but with despondent 
feelings. They determined, by frugality, and ban- 
ishing articles of luxury of English manufacture, to 
cause the Act to recoil on England. The House of 
Burgesses reassembled on May 1, but none of the 
members proposed any measure of resistance, or 
even of further protest. Kichard Henry Lee, so 
active at the preceding session in protesting against 
the passage of the Act, did not attend the meeting.' 
A majority of the Governors wrote to the Ministry 
that the Act would be enforced, and this was the 
belief of the gentlemen who accepted the office of 
stamp distributors.* 

Thus the execution of the Act seemed inevitable, 
and, once submitted to, the claim of Parliament to 
tax the colonies would have been firmly established, 
and the colonies enslaved. Burke described their 
condition, subjected to such a power, when he after- 
ward asked the Ministry," " What one characteristio 
of liberty the Americans have, and what one brand of 
slavery are they free from, if they are bound in their 
property and industry by all the restraints yon 
can imagine on commerce, and at the same time are 
made pack-horses of every tax you choose to impose, 

> BMOToft. T., 294. • Id., 165 ud STS. 

* The JoniiuJ doea not ihow hia pTMenoe, 

* parliunentMy Hiitoij, tdI, 10, p. 191. 

* BpoMh on AbmtIomi Taxstian. 



without the least share in granting them ? " And 
Bacon had said before him: ^^The blessings of 
Judah and Issachar will never meet, that the same 
people or nation should be both the lion's whelp 
and the ass between two burdens ; neither will it be 
that a people overlaid with taxes should ever be- 
come valiant and martial. It is true that taxes 
levied by consent of the state do abate men's cour- 
age less, as it hath been seen notably in the excise 
of the Low Countries, and in the subsidies of Eng- 
land, for you must note that we speak now of the 
heart and not of the purse ; so that although the 
same tribute or tax laid by consent or by impos- 
ing be all one to the purse, yet it works diversely 
upon the courage, so that you may conclude that 
no people overcharged with tribute is fit for em- 
pire." * 

The inevitable effect of once submitting to the 
Act was fully appreciated by the patriots, and 
John Adams expressed their conviction when he 
entered in his diary, on December 18, 1765, "K 
this authority is once acknowledged and estab- 
lished, the ruin of America will become inevit- 

The great mass of the people were thoroughly 
convinced that the Act was in violation of their 
rights, and an unjustifiable wrong inflicted on them, 
but no one stood forth around whom they could 
rally in opposing its execution. All the leaders to 
whom they had been accustomed to look, failed 
them in this their hour of extreme peril. But, 
as so often has happened in great crises, the rul- 
er of human affairs had trained, and now brought 

* Baoon on the True Greatness of Kingdoms. 


forward, one in every way equal to the occasion 
—a man of the people, thoroughly identified with 
them, and fitted, by native genius and by undaunted 
courage, to inspire them with the high resolve, to 
stake all on the preservation of the great principle 
of representative government. 



STAMP AOT—17e6. 

DMtMft cf Hr, Heniy to the House of Borgesseflu^— Oharaoter of 
t^ Hoaae.— Lower Oonnties and Upper Comities.— Character- 
iRa» cf the People. — ^Proposition to make a Public Loan to 
R<2MTie Indiridiial Embanassmeni- Eloquent Speech of Mr. 
Hcuy ta OppositioiL — ^Besolntions against the Stamp Act In- 
isvxSwiei br Mr. Hoirj, May 29, 1765, and Carried against the 
C^^*iKiai» cf %h€ Old Leaders. — Mr. Jefferson's Account of the 
IV6a»iL— A<^>iiiita of QoTemor Fauquier and Bev. William 
BofciaKO. — CVoLtenipoirKDeoiis Evidence Concerning the Num- 
Kw o^ Rwctokoit Offex^sd and Pkissed. — ^Leadership of the Col- 
CB7 Mvvcocd Mr. Henir as a Conaequence of his Action.— Effect 
C)f ^ R«c£nt» oa the OokNiieB. — ^Resistance to the Execution 
%>£ t^ Act.— S^aMp Act Oongieas.- Mr. Heniy's Fame.— He 
Otaw 1^ Luttil firqla^ to the BeTolution. 

It w:ji$ a( this critic;!!! period that Patrick Henry 
rtitertxi ujva public life. On the first day of its 
9^cfi$iou the House of Burgesses took steps to fill 
^n-eral vaoHiioies which had occurred during the re- 
oetsk Oue of thecs^e was from the county of Louisa, 
whv>^^ del^rate« William Johnson, had accepted the 
oftt\v <vf Oorv>uer. Mr. Henry, though not a resident 
ixf that ivuuty, w"as elected to fill the vacancy/ his 
name l>eiuij brought forward by William Venable, 
a pnnuiueut citizen. It has been said that the va- 
oanoY was made in order that Mr. Henry might be- 
oiuue a member of the House, and exert himself 

homi exeonled in Aofost, 17W» desoEibes him as a resident of Han- 

-J 'J:^J»j;v' 


against the Stamp Act. But there seems to be no 
ground for this assertion, as Mr. Johnson accepted 
the oflSee of Coroner, which required the resignation 
of hi8 seat, before information was received of the 
passage of the Act.* The happening of the vacancy 
at this time, and the election of Mr. Henry to fill it, 
must be considered events of that kind styled by 
some, accidental, but by the more thoughtful, prov- 
idential. Certainly no event seemingly bo unimpor- 
tant as the resignation of Mr. Johnson, ever pro- 
duced more impoiiiant results. 

Mf. Henry took his seat May 20, and was at once 
placed on the Committee of Courts of Justice. He 
entered a body of intellectual and patriotic men, 
whose proceedings were conducted with the utmost 
decorum, and whose leaders were possessed of ability, 
of culture, and of deserved influence.* 

John Robinson, the Speaker of the House, had filled 
the chair for twenty-five years with great dignity. He 
was possessed of a strong mind, which was enlarged 
by great experience, and of a benevolence of spirit and 
courtesy of manner which rendered him exceedingly 
populai-. He was wealthy, and was the acknowlr 
edged head of the landed aristocracy. As Speaker 
of the House he was also Treasurer of the colony, 
and was altogether the most influential member of 
the body. The high offices he held caused him to 
be warmly attached to the royal government, and he 
was very averse to taking any step which would be 
censured by the Ministry. 

Peyton Randolph, the Attorney-General, held the 
next rank to the Speaker. He was an eminent law- 

I Thia inf oimAtion wm not raoeived till fttter the Hotue met. 
■ See Appendix £L f or ft Uat of the memben. 



yer, an accomplished parliamentarian, and a practi- 
cal statesman of a higli order. He presided over the 
House when it sat in committee of the whole. 

Edmund Pendleton was justly ranked as one of 
the ablest men in the House. Mr. JefEei*son has 
said of him, ^^ Taken all in all, he was the ablest man 
in debate I ever met ; he was cool, smooth, and per- 
suasive; his language flowing, chaste, and embel- 
lished ; his conceptions quick, acute, and full of re- 
source; add to this that he was one of the most 
virtuous and benevolent of men, the kindest friend, 
the most amiable and pleasant of companions." 

George Wythe is described by Mr. Jefferson as 
the best Latin and Greek scholar in the colony, and of 
such purity and inflexible integrity, of such warm 
patriotism and devotion to liberty, that he might 
have been called the Cato of his country, without 
the avarice of the Roman. His elocution was easy 
and his language chaste. He was methodical in the 
arrangement of his matter, learned and logical in 
the use of it, and of great urbanity in debate ; not 
quick of apprehension, but profound in penetration, 
and sound in conclusion. 

Richard Bland is described by the same pen, as 
the most learned and logical man of those who took 
a prominent lead in public affairs ; profound in con- 
stitutional lore, but a most ungraceful speaker in 
debate. He wrote the first pamphlet on the nature 
of the colonial connection with Great Britain, which 
had any pretension to accuracy of view on that sub- 
ject. Edmund Randolph states, that his perfect 
knowledge of the history of the colony had given 
him the name of the " Virginian Antiquarian." 

Richard Henry Lee was already distinguished for 


rthflt learning, and those great gifts of tongue and 
pen, which won for him the title of the " Cicero of 

George Washington, modest and retiring as a 
member, was the beau ideal of a soldier, and was 
already noted for that strong common sense and per- 
fectly balanced character, which have won the ad- 
miration of the world. He at once became Mr. 
Henry's fnend. 

Robert Carter Nicholas, of singular purity of 
character and strength of intellect, was the leading 
lawj^er of the colony. 

BeradeB these may be named among those who 
deservedly rose to high position, and were already 
men of influence, Paul Carrington, BenjamiD Harri- 
son, "William Cabell, Archibald Gary, Thomas Mar- 
shall, John Page, Carter Braxton, Francis Lightfoot 
Lee, Thompson Mason, Dudley Digges, and the ac- 
complished John Blair of the College. The list 
shows other names of equal merit and intelligence 
which will be recognized by the reader. 

Histoiy does not tell as of a State of the same 
size as Yirginia which could, at any one period, fur- 
nish such a galaxy of great names as is found on 
the roll of this House ; and one is forced to admire 
the elements of Vii^nia society, which united to 
bring upon the stage of action at one time such a 
superb body of men. 

If there were parties in the House they were 
beat divided by a geographical line, which would 
separate the old connties on tide-water, from the 
newer and more western, known as " upper coun- 
ties." Of the fifty-six counties on the roll of the 
House thirty-five were on tide-water, or in that see- 


tion.^ The rest were in the piedmont and mountain- 
ous regions. 

But this division would have been made not be- 
cause of the geographical line, but of the difference 
in the population on either side of it. The counties 
on tide-water, first settled, contained a population 
almost purely English, an admixture of the cavalier 
and puritan elements, and showing some of the best 
characteristics of both. Many younger sons of 
wealthy or noble families, many of the yeomanry, 
and many of the merchant class of England were 
found among them. Entailed estates, and large 
property in slaves, had developed a decided aris- 
tocracy, which vied with the vice-regal court of 
the Governor at Williamsburg in their manner of 
living. They prided themselves on being loyal to 
the King and the Established Church. 

Far different were the people who settled to the 
westward, and who, or whose immediate ancestors, 
had to subdue the forest and its savage inhabitants. 
While these were largely English also, vrith some 
admiirture of French Huguenot, Scotch, and Ger- 
man, as was also the case in tide-water Virginia, 
there was also found a large, and in some counties 
a controlling element, of Scotch-Irish. This was 
notably so in the valley counties. 

The Scotch who settled the north of Ireland dur- 
ing the first quarter of the seventeenth century, be- 
came restless under the persecutions to which they 
were subjected in the reign of Queen Anne, and emi- 
grated to America in great numbei*s during the 
eighteenth century. In 1738, they applied to Gov- 
ernor Gooch for permission to settle in the valley of 

> Jdffeiioii*s Notes on Viiginia, 153. 


Virginia, promising to hold the western frontier 
against tiie Indians, and imposing but one condition, 
" that they be allowed the liberty of their consciences, 
and of worshipping God in a way agreeable to the 
principles of their education." The Governor re- 
tamed a gracious answer, and soon the valley of 
Virginia, from Pennsylvania to the North Carolina 
line, was filled with this hardy race, which over- 
flowed the mountains and gave tone and character 
to the piedmont counties. 

This people, which has so largely controlled the 
history of Virginia, retained in a remarkable degree 
the characteristics which distinguished them in the 
old world. They were Presbyterians in their re- 
ligion and church government, were loyal to the 
conceded authority of the king, but held him to be 
bound, as well as themselves, by ^Hhe solemn 
League and Covenant," made in 1643, by which the 
throne was pledged to the support of the reforma- 
tion, and of the liberties of the kingdoms ; they 
claimed the rights of a fi*ee church ; they practised 
strict discipline in morals, and rigidly trained their 
youth in secular and religious learning ; and as a race 
they combined, as perhaps no other did, acuteness 
of intellect, firmness of purpose, and conscientious 
devotion to duty. Trained to arms by their contin- 
uous contact with the treacherous savage, they be- 
came a race of soldiers, distinguished in every war in 
which Virginia had been engaged. As the vast ter- 
ritoiy was divided into new counties, this popula- 
tion began to exercise influence in the councils of 
the State. Upon all questions involving the exer- 
cise of arbitrary powers they were a united band, 
withstanding the tendency of the cavaliers to bow 


to royal authority, and maintaining their rights with 
the spirit of John Knox. 

Mr. Henry had not been in his seat three days 
before he was called to his f eet, by a proposition 
that the colony borrow £240,000, to be secured and 
met by a tax on tobacco, of which £100,000 was to 
be used to redeem the current paper money, issued 
to meet the expenses of the late war, and £140,000 
in loans on permanent security. Mr. Jefferson, who 
heard the debate, has left the following account of 
the matter : 

^^ The gentlemen of this country had, at that time, 
become deeply involved in that state of indebtment 
which has smce ended in so general a crush of their 
fortunes. Mr. Robinson, the Speaker, was also the 
Treasurer, an oflScer always chosen by the Assembly. 
He was an excellent man, liberal, friendly, and rich. 
He had been drawn in to lend, on his own account, 
great sums of money to persons of this description ; 
and especially those who were of the assembly. He 
used freely lor this purpose the public money, con- 
fiding for its replacement in his own means, and the 
securities he had taken on those loans. About this 
time, however, he became sensible that his deficit to 
the public was become so enormous, as that a dis- 
covery must soon take place, for as yet the public 
had no suspicion of it. He devised therefore, with 
his friends in the assembly, a plan for a public loan 
ofiice, to a certain amount, from which money might 
be lent on public account, and on good landed secur- 
ity, to inaividuals. I find in Koyle's Virginia 
u^azette of May 17, 1765, this proposition for a loan 
office presented, its advantages detailed, and the 
plan explained. It seems to have been done by a 
^^^^Dorrowing member, from the feeling with which the 
^VHpotiTes are expressed, and to have been preparatory 

to the intended motion. The motion for a loan 
office was accordingly brought forward in the House 
of Burgesses, and iiad it succeeded, the debts due 
to Robmson on these loans would have been trans- 
ferred to the public, and his deficit thus completely 
covered. This state of things, however, was not yet 
known : but Mr. Henry attacked the scheme on 
other general grounds, in that style of bold, grand, 
and overwhelming eloquence, for which he became 
80 justly celebrated afterward. I had been intimate 
with him from the year 1759-60, and felt an 
interest in what concerned him ; and I can never 
foivet a partienlar exclamatioii of his in the debate, 
w}u<^ electrified his hearen. It had been n^^ed, 
that, from certain unhappy circumstances of the 
colony, men of substantial property had contracted 
debts, which, if exacted suddenly, must ruin them 
and their families, but with a little indulgence of 
time, might be paid with ease. 'What sir,' ex- 
claimed Mr. Henry, in animadverting on this, ' is it 
S reposed, then, to reclaim the spendthrift fi-om his ' 
iasipation and extravagance, by filling his pockets 
with money ? ' These expressions are indelibly im- 
pressed on my memory. He laid open with so 
much energy the spirit of favoritism, on which the 
proposition was fonnded, and the abuses to which it 
would lead, that it was crushed in its birth. He 
carried with him all the members of the upper 
counties, and left a minority composed merely of the 
aristocracy of the country. From this time his 
popnlarity swelled apace ; and Mr. Robinson dying 
the year afterward, his deficit was brought to light, 
and discovered the true object of the proposition." ' 

Mr. Jefferson's memory was at fault in the state- 
ment that the proposition was defeated in the House. 

■mrt'aHeniy, 60-71. 


The Journal shows that it passed the House, and was 
disapproved by the Council, after a conference with 
a conunittee of the House, consisting of Edmund 
Pendleton, Archibald Gary, Benjamin Harrison, 
Lewis Burwell, George Braxton, and John Fleming, 
who were, doubtless, advocates of the scheme. 

The exclamation so indelibly impressed on Mr. 
Jefferson's memory is an example of Mr. Henry's 
wonderful power of expression, by which he was 
enabled to condense his argument into one brilliant 
sentence, which, like an electric flash, illumined his 
subject, and stamped itself on the minds of his hear- 
evs. In this, Mr. Henry's first debate in the House, 
he displayed not only his great powers of eloquence, 
but his courage in maintaining his convictions of 
public duty against the united efforts of the aristo- 
cratic leaders of the body. He at once threw him- 
self athwart their path,, and aroused their enmity, 
which was none the less bitter because mixed with 

But what he lost on one side of the House he 
gained on the other. The members who, like him- 
self, represented the yeomanry of the colony, were 
filled with admiration and delight. They rallied 
around the man who was one of themselves, and 
who showed himself able to cope with the ablest of 
the old leaders. 

Mr. Henry, since the argument of the " Parsons' 
Cause," had been recognized in his county as the bold- 
est of the advocates of colonial rights, and it was 
doubtless due to this that he had been elected to 
the House of Burgesses. He found the House 
thrown into consternation by the intelligence of the 
passage of the Stamp Act, but with no seeming dis- 

position to resist its execution. The men who had 
80 earnestly protested against its passage felt that 
they had done their whole duty, and that nothing 
was left, but to submit to the will of Parliament. 
Bat Mr. Henry was of a difPerent mind. His won- 
derful political si^aeity, so often displayed after- 
ward, convinced him, that submission to the Act 
would be fatal to the liberties of the colonies ; and 
that a bold move might have the effect of uniting 
the people in a determined opposition to its execu- 
tion, the only hope of preventing its disastrous con- 
sequences. So believing, he wrote on the blank leaf 
of an old copy of " Coke upon Littleton," his fa- 
mous resolutions against the Act, which were based 
upon the declaratioD of that author, that it is against 
Magna Charta, and the franchises of the land, for 
freemen to be taxed but by their own consent, and 
that an Act of Parliament against M^na Charta, or 
common right, or reason, is void. He showed them 
to Geoi^e Johnston, of Fairfax, and John Fleming, 
of Cumberland, before moving them, and obtained 
their promise of support. On May 29, hia twen- 
ty-ninth birthday, he offered them to the House 
sitting in committee of the whole,' and Mr. John- 
ston seconded them. Mr. Henry, who was careless 
in the preservation of papers touching his public 
life, considered the effect of these resolutions of 
such traneceodent importance, that he left, along 
with his will, a copy of them, and an account of their 
passage, in a sealed letter endorsed, "Inclosed are 
the resolutions of the Virginia Assembly, in 1765, 
concerning the Stamp Act Let my executors open 

' tmvX Curingtra wrota Hi. Wirt that JohnrtMi nwrod to go Into 
oDminittM of tb* iAa» wtd Mr. Haaiijr mdodcM tho motion. 


this paper." Within was found the following copy 
of the resolutions : 

'* Resolved^ That the first adventurers and settlers 
of this his Majesty's colony and dominion brought 
with them, and transmitted to their posterity^ and 
all other his Majesty's subjects since inhabitmg in 
this his Majesty s said colony, all the privileges, 
franchises, and immunities that have at any time 
been held, enjoyed, and possessed by the people of 
Great Britain. 

" Resolved^ That by two royal charters, granted 
by King James the First, the colonists aforesaid 
are declared entitled to all the privileges, liberties, 
and immunities of denizens ana natural-born sub- 
jects, to all intents and purposes as if they had been 
abiding and born within the realm of England. 

Resolvedy That the taxation of the people by 
themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to 
represent them, who can only know what taxes the 
people are able to bear, and the easiest mode of 
raising them, and are equally affected by such taxes 
themselves, is the distmguishin^ characteristick of 
British freedom, and without which the ancient Con- 
stitution cannot subsist. 

" Resolvedy That his Majesty's liege people of this 
most ancient colony have uninterruptedly enjoyed 
the right of being thus governed by their own 
Assembly in the article of their taxes and internal 
police, and that the same hath never been forfeited 
or any other way given up, but hath been constantly 
recognized by tne kings and people of Great Brit- 

" Resolvedy thereforey That the General Assembly 
of this colony have the only and sole exclusive right 
and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the 
inhabitants of this colony, and that every attempt 
to vest such power in any person or persons whatso- 


ever, other than the General Assembly aforesaid, has 
a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as 
American fi'eedom." 

On the back of the paper containing these resolu- 
tions is the following endorsement, which is in the 
handwriting of Mr. Henry himself : 

" The within resolutions passed the House of Bur- 
gesses in May, 1765. They formed the first oppo- 
sition to the Stamp Act and the scheme of taxing 
America by the British Parliament. All the colo- 
nies, either through fear, or want of opportunity to 
form an opposition, or from influence of some kind 
or other, had remained silent. I had been for the 
first time elected a Burgess a few days before, was 
young, inexperienced, unacquainted with the forms 
of the House, and the members that composed it. 
Finding the men of weight averse to opposition, and 
the commencement of the tax at hand, and that no 
person was likely to step forth, I determined to ven- 
ture, and alone, unadvised, and unassisted, on a blank 
leaf of an old law-book, wrote the within. Upon 
offering them to the House violent debates ensued. 
Many threats were uttered, and much abuse cast on 
me by the party for submission. After a long and 
warm contest the resolutions passed by a very small 
majority, perhaps of one or two only. The alarm 
spread throughout America with astonishing quick- 
ness, and the Ministerial party were overwhelmed. 
The great point of resistance to British taxation was 
universally established in the colonies. This brought 
on the war which finally separated the two coun- 
tries and gave independence to ours. Whether this 
will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon 
the use our people make of the blessings which a 
gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise. 



they will be great and happy. If they are of a con- 
trary character, they will be miserable. Righteous- 
ness alone can exalt them as a nation. Keader! 
whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy 
sphere practise virtue thyself, and encourage it in 

•* P. Henry." ' 

In addition to this modest statement we have the 
following interesting account given by Mr. Jefferson. 
He says, as quoted by Mr. Wirt : 

" Mr. Henry moved and Mr. Johnston seconded 
these resolutions successively. They were opposed 
by Messrs. Randolph, Bland, Pendleton, Wythe, and 
ail the old members, whose influence in the House 
had, till then, been unbroken. They did it, not from 
any question of our rights, but on the ground that 
the same sentiments had been, at their preceding 
session, expressed in a more conciliatory form, to 
which the answers were not vet received. But tor- 
rents of sublime eloquence jfrom Henry, backed by 
the solid reasoning of Johnston, prevailed.* The 
last, however, and strongest resolution was carried 
but by a single vote. The debate on it was most 
bloody. I was then but a student, and stood at the 
door of communication between the House and the 
lobby ^for as yet there was no gallery) during the 
whole aebate and vote ; and I well remember that, 
after the members on the division were told and de- 
clared from the chair, Peyton Randolph (the Attor- 
ney-General) came out at the door where I was 
standing, and said, as he entered the lobby : * By 
God, I would have given 500 guineas for a single 
vote ; * for one would have divided the House, and 

1 ThiB paper is in the poesession of the author. 

* Paul Carrington eays that Robert Monford and John Fleming also 



Eobinson was in the chair, who he knew would 
have negatived the resolution. Mr. Henry left town 
that evening, and the next morning, before the 
meeting of the House, Colonel Peter Randolph, then 
of the Council, came to the Hall of Burgesses, and 
sat at the clerk's table till the House-bell rang, 
thumbing over the volumes of journals, to find a 

Srecedent for expunging a vote of the House, which, 
e said, had taken place while he was a member or 
clerk of the House, I do not recollect which. I 
stood by him at the end of the table a considerable 

{)art of the time, looking on, as he turned over the 
eaves, but I do not recollect whether he found the 
erasure. In the meantime, some of the timid mem- 
bers, who had voted for the strongest resolution, had 
become alarmed ; and as soon as the House met, a 
motion was made and earned to expunge it from the 
journal. There being at that day but one printer, 
and he entirely under the control of the Governor, 
I do not know that the resolution ever appeared in 
print. I write this from memory, but the impression 
made on me at the time was such as to fix the facts 
indelibly in ray raind. I suppose the original journal 
was among those destroyed by the British, or its 
obliterated face might be appealed to. And here I 
will state, that Bui-k's statement of Mr. Henry's con- 
senting to withdraw two resolutions, by way of com- 
promise with his opponents, is entirely erroneous." ^ 

In his autobiography Mr. Jefferson says of Mr. 
Henry's speech : *' I attended the debate at the door 
of the lobby of the House of Burgesses, and heard 
the splendid display of Mr. Henry's talents as a 
popular orator. They were great indeed ; such as 
I have never heard from any other man. He ap- 
peared to me to speak as Homer wrote." 

' Wirt's Henry, 78-0. 


Judge Paul Carrington, who entered the House on 
the 25th of the month as a delegate from Charlotte, 
in his letter to Mr. Wirt, sustains the recollections 
of Mr. Jefferson. He declared that Mr. Henry's 
eloquence in the debate was beyond his powers of 
description. He states that on the dOth, after the 
adoption of the resolutions by the House, Mr. Henry 
left for his home,^ and the next day, on the motion 
of the Attorney-General, the fifth resolution was 
erased from the record. He adds that the journal 
was soon afterward missing. The printed journal 
sustains these gentlemen, in that it only contains the 
first four resolutions. The entries on it touching 
the matter are as follows : 

" 1765, May 29. On motion made, Besolvedj That 
the House resolve itself into a committee of the 
whole House immediately, to consider the steps 
necessary to be taken in consequence of the reso- 
lutions of the House of Commons of Great Britain, 
relative to the charging certain Stamp Duties in 
the Colonies and Plantations in America. 

" The House accordingly resolved itself into the 
said committee, and after some time spent therein 
Mr. Speaker resumed the chair, and Mr. Attorney 
reported, that the said committee had had the said 
matter under their consideration, and had come to 
several resolutions thereon, which he was ready to 
deliver in at the table. Ordered, That the said re- 
port be received to-morrow. '^ 

" May 30. Mr. Attorney, from the committee of 
the whole House, reported, according t5 order, that 

1 (<Oxi the afternoon of the day that his resolutions were adopted, he 
might have been seen passing along the street, on his way to his home in 
Louisa, clad in a pair of leather breeches, his saddle-bags on his arm, 
leading a lean horse, and chatting with Paul Carrington, who walked by 
his side.** Grigsbj^s Gonyention of 177G, citing Carrington memoranda. 

the committee had considered of the steps neccsaaiy 
to be taken, in consequence of the resolutions of 
the House of Commons of Great Britain relative to 
the charging certain Stamp Duties in the Colonies 
and Plantations in America, and that they had 
come to several resolutions thereon, which he read in 
his place, and then delivered in at the table, where 
they were again twice read, and agi-eed to by the 
House, \vith some ajuendments, and are as follows: 

" Resolved, That the first adventurers and settlers 
of this his Majesty's Colony and Dominion of Vir- 
ginia brought with them, and transmitted to their 
posterity, and all other his Majesty's subjects since 
inhabiting in this his Majesty's said Colony, all 
the Liberties, Privileges, Franchises, and Immuni- 
ties that have at any time been held, enjoyed, and 
possessed by the People of Great Britain. 

" Resolved, That by two Royal Charters, granted 
by King James the First, the Colonists aforesaid 
are declared entitled to all Liberties, Privileges, and 
Immunities of Denizens and Natural Subjects, to 
all intents and purposes, as if they had been abid- 
ing and bom within the Realm of England. 

" Resolved, That the taxation of the People by 
themselves, or by Persons chosen by themselves to 
represent them, who can only know what taxes the 
People are able to bear, or the easiest method of 
raising them, and must themselves be affected by 
every tax laid on the people, is the only eecurity 
against a burthensome taxation, and the distinguish- 
ing characteristick of British Freedom, without 
which the Ancient Constitution cannot exist. 

" Resolved, That his Majesty's liege People of this 
his most ancient and Loyal Colony, have without in- 
terruption enjoyed the inestimable Right of being 
governed by such laws, respecting their internal 
Polity and Taxation, as are derived from their own 
consent, with the approbation of their Sovereign, or 


his substitute; and that the same hath never been 
foi*feited or yielded up, but hath been constantly 
recognized by the Kings and People of Great 

It was in the ^^ most bloody '' debate on the last 
or fifth resolution, that Mr. Henry, while descanting 
on the tyranny of the obnoxious Act, exclaimed in a 
voice and with a gesture which startled the House : 
*' Tarquin ^ and Csesar had each his Brutus, Charles 
the First his Cromwell, and George the Third 

" *' Treason ! " shouted the Speaker. " Treason ! 

Treason ! " echoed from every part of the House. 
Without faltering for an instant, but rising to a 
loftier attitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye 
which seemed to flash fire, Mr. Henry added, with 
the most thrilling emphasis — " may profit by their 
example ! If this be treason, make the most of it." * 

As no division was recorded, we have not the 
names of those voting for and against these resolu- 
tions. We learn, however, from Judge Paul Car- 
rington's letter to Mr. Wirt that the House was 
thin, probably not more than forty-one being pres- 
* ent, and that the six members from his immediate 
section voted with Mr. Henry. These were Hemy 
Blagrave and William Taylor from Lunenburg, 
Robert Munf ord and Edmund Taylor from Mecklen- 
burg, and Paul CaiTington and Thomas Bead from 
Charlotte. George Johnston, from Fairfax, and John 
Fleming, from Cumberland, are known to have sup- 
ported him, and doubtless George Washington 

I Or aa Bome reported it, " Caaar had hia Bratoa.'* 

* Letter from Virginia, Jane 14, 17G5, in London ''Gazetteer'* of 
Augoat 18, 1765, and in General Adyertiaer to New York ThnradaT'a 
**Gaiette,*' October 81, 1765, cited by Bancroft, y. 277. MS. letter of 
Oaxrington to Mr. Wirt. 


voted for the resolntions, as a letter written soon 
afterward indicates strong opposition to the Act. 
Mr. Jefferson in after years said that the members 
from the npper counties invariably supported Mr. 
Henry in his revolutionary measures, ^ and there 
can be no doubt they did so on this ^occasion, and 
that to the Scotch-Irish and Huguenot members he 
was indebted for his triumph. 

^^ By these resolutions,'' says Mr. Jefferson, ^^ and 
his manner of supporting them, Mr. Henry took the 
lead out of the hands of those who had theretofore 
guided the proceedings of the House ; that is to say, 
of Pendleton, Wythe, Bland, and Randolph.'' It 
was indeed a wonderful triumph. That a young 
man, for the first time a member of a deliberative 
body, and a stranger to nearly every member, 
should, within ten days after taking his seat, pro* 
pose and carry through the House, against the united 
efforts of the able men who had long controlled the 
body, resolutions which placed the colony in direct 
antagonism to the British Government, is a feat un- 
precedented in the annals of legislation, and is of 
itself the highest testimony to his transcendent ge- 
nius. From that day he had a right to be, as he was, 
the acknowledged leader of the colony of Virginia. 

The session was drawing to a close, but the Gov- 
ernor, alarmed by these resolutions, sent for the 
House, and on June 1, dissolved it, instead of pro- 
roguing it to a futm*e day. 

It will be noted that Mr. Henry preserved five 
resolutions which he stated passed the House of 
Burgesses. The absence of the last one from the 
printed journal has been accounted for, by the action 

> Conyenation with Daniel Webster. CartiB*8 Webster. 


of the body rescinding it the next day, when Mr. 
Henry was absent. But the resolntiona which were 
printed and circulated as the action of the Aaaem- 
bly were six in number, and besides difEering some- 
what in language in the first five, they declared 
in the sixth, that any one who maintained that the 
Assembly had not the sole power to lay taxes on the 
people, should be deemed an enemy to the colony. 
How these came to be published as the action of 
the Assembly is an interesting question, and the 
following contemporaneous references to the matter 
will throw light upon the subject 

On June 5, 1765, Governor Fanquier wrote to 
the liords of Trade as follows: ' 

*' On Saturday, the 1st instant, I dissolved the As- 
sembly, after passing all the bills except one, which 
were ready for my assent The four Resolutions, 
which I now have the honor to inclose to your Lord- 
ships, will show your Lordships the reason of my con- 
duct, and I hope justify it. I will relate the whole 
proceeding to your Lordships in as concise a manner 
as I am able. 

" On Wednesday, May 29th, just at the end of the 
session, when most of the members had left the town, 
there being but thirty-nine present of one hundred 
and sixteen, of which the House of Burgesses now 
consists, a motion was made to take into considera- 
tion the Stamp Act, a copy of which had crept into 
the House ; and in a committee of the whole fire 
resolutions were proposed and agreed to, all by very 
small majorities. On Thursday, the 30th, they were 
reported and agreed to by the House, the number 
being as before in the committee; the greatest ma- 

■ Sm note to p. 266 of LU« of Patrick Eeiuy, Bpuka'a American Bio(- 



jority being twenty-two to seventeen ; for the fifth 
resolution, twenty to nineteen only. On Friday, the 
81st^ there having happened a small alteration in 
the House, there was an attempt to strike all 
the resolutions off the journals. The fifth, which 
was thouj^ht the most offensive, was accordingly 
struck oSj but it did not succeed as to the other 
four. I am informed the gentlemen had two more 
resolutions in their pocket, out finding the difficulty 
they had in carrying the fifth, which was by a 
single voice, and knowing them to be more yim- 
lent and inflammatory, they did not produce theuL 

^^ The most strenuous opposers of this rash heat 
were the late Speaker, the King's Attorney, and Mr. 
Wythe ; but they were overpowered by the young, 
hot, and giddy members. In the course of the de- 
bates I have heard that very indecent language 
was used by Mr. Henry, a young lawyer, who had 
not been above a month a member of the House, and 
who carried all the young members with him. So 
that I hope I am autnorized at least in saying, that 
there is cause to doubt whether this would have 
been the sense of the colony, if most of their repre- 
sentatives had done their duty by attending to the 
end of the session." 

In a letter written to the Bishop of London, Au- 
gust 12, 1765, from King and Queen County, by 
Rev. William Robinson, Commissary for Virginia,* 
the following reference is made to the matter. 
After stating the conduct of Mr. Henry in the " Par- 
sons' Cause," the writer says : " He has since been 
chosen a representative of one of the counties, in 
which character he has lately distinguished himself 
in the House of Burgesses, on occasion of the arrival 
of an Act of Parliament for stamp duties while the 

' Perzy's Hiitorioal Papers, Virginia, 614. 


Aaaembly was sitting. He blazed out in a violent 
^)eech against the authority of Parliament and the 
King, comparing his Majesty to a Tarquin, a CsBsar, 
and a Charles the First, and not sparing insinua- 
tions that he wished another Cromwell would arise. 
He made a motion for several outrageous resolves, 
some of which passed, and were again erased as soon 
as his back was turned. Such was the behavior in 
the Lower House of Assembly, that the Governor 
could not save appearances without dissolving them. 
They were accordingly dissolved, and Mr. Henry, 
the hero of whom I have been wi*iting, is gone 
quietly into the upper parts of the countiy, to rec- 
ommend himself to his constituents by spreading 
treason, and enforcing firm resolutions against the 
authority of the British Parliament. This is at least 
the common report. The concluding resolve which 
he offered to the House, and which fell among the 
rejected ones, was that any person who should write 
or speak in favor of the Act of Parliament for lay- 
ing stamp duties, should be deemed an enemy to the 
colony of Virginia ; such notions has he of liberty 
and property, as well as of authority." 

As the wiiter was a cousin of John Robinson, 
and lived in the same county with him, it is prob- 
able he got his information from the Speaker. 

Gordon, in his " History of the American Revolu- 
tion " ^ gives the original resolutions which, he states, 
were offered by Mr. Henry, and adds : " Upon read- 
ing these resolves the Scotch gentlemen in the House 
cried out treason, etc. They were, however, adopted. 
The next day some old members got them revised, 
though they could not carry it to reject them. As 

> Pji. 117-18. 


revised, they stand thus on the printed journals of 
the House of Burgesses, etc." 

John Marshall, whose father was a member, in his 
** Life of Washington '^ gives the original resolutions 
in nearly the same words as Gordon, and adds, that 
they all passed the committee, but the last two were 
lost in the House. Edmund Randolph makes the 
same statement in his " History of Vii'ginia." Gor- 
don states that ^^a manuscript of the unrevised 
resolves soon reached Philadelphia, having been 
sent off immediately upon their passing, that the 
earliest information of what had been done might 
be obtained by the Sons of Liberty. From thence 
the like was forwarded on June 17th. At New York 
the resolves were handed about with great privacy ; 
they were accounted so treasonable that the posses- 
sors of them declined printing them in that city. 
The Irish gentleman alluded to above (from Con- 
necticut) being there, inquired after them, and with 
much precaution was admitted to take a copy. He 
carried them to New England, where they were pub- 
lished and circulated far and wide in the newspa- 
pers, without any reserve, and proved eventually the 
occasion of those disorders which afterward broke 
out in the colonies." 

The original resolves as printed by Gordon, ap- 
peared in The Newpwt Mercury June 24, and were 
copied into the Boston papers of July 1.^ They are 
as follows : 

" Whereas^ The Honorable House of Commons, in 
England, have of late drawn into question how far 
the General Assembly of this colony hath power to 

> Frothingliam's Rise of the Bepublio, 180. 


enact laws for laying of taxes and imposing duties 
payable by the people of this, his Majesty's most 
ancient colony; for settling and ascertaining the 
same to all future times, the House of Burgesses of 
this present General Assembly have come to the fol- 
lowing resolves. 

" Meaolved^ That the first adventurers, settlers of 
this his Majesty's colony and dominion of Vii'ginia, 
brought with them and transmitted to their poster- 
ity, and all other his Majesty's subjects, since in- 
habiting in this his Majesty's colony, all the privi- 
leges and immunities that have at any time been 
held, enjoyed, and possessed by the people of Great 

*' Resolved^ That by two royal charters, granted 
by King James the First, the colony aforesaid are 
declared and entitled to all privileges and immuni- 
ties of natural-born subjects, to all intents and pur- 
poses as i£ they had been abiding, and bom within 
the realm of England. 

" Resolved, That his Majesty's liege people of this 
his ancient colony have enjoyed the nght of being 
thus governed by their own Assembly in the article 
of taxes and internal police, and that the same have 
never been forfeited, or any other way yielded up, 
but have been constantly recognized by the King 
and people of Great Britain. 

^^itesolvedy Therefore, that the General Assem- 
bly of this colony, together with his Majesty or his 
substitutes, have, in their representative capacity, 
the only exclusive right and power to lay taxes and 
imposts upon the inhabitants of this colony ; and that 
every attempt to vest such power in any other person 
or persons whatever than the General Assembly 
aforesaid, is illegal, unconstitutional, and unjust, 
and has a manifest tendency to destroy British as 
well as American liberty. 

^^Resolvedy That his Majesty's liege people, the 


inhabitants of this colony, are not bound to yield 
obedience to any law or ordinance whatever, de- 
signed to impose any taxation whatsoever upon them, 
otner than the laws or ordinances of the General 
Assembly aforesaid. 

" Resolved^ That any person who shall, by speak- 
ing or writing, assert or maintain that any person 
or persons, otner than the General Assembly of this 
colony, have any right or power to impose or lay any 
taxation on the people nere, shall be deemed an 
enemy to his Majesty's colony." 

The four resolutions which appear on the Journal 
and two additional ones were printed in the WilU 
iamshurg Gazette} And it is stated in the " Pri- 
or Documents," printed in London in 1777, that 
these additional ones "were not passed, but only 
drawn up by the committee," which means they 
were reported by the committee of the whole to 
the House. 

From these statements it appears that six resolu- 
tions were offered in committee of the whole, and 
were there agreed to ; that upon the report of the 
committee to the House, the five resolutions were 
adopted which were preserved by Mr. Henry ; that 
on the next day the last of these was rescinded, and 
does not appear on the printed journal; and that 
the resolutions offered and agreed to in the com- 
mittee of the whole, including the preamble which 
was afterward struck out, were published and taken 
as the action of the Virginia Assembly.* 

The publication of Mr. Henry's resolutions against 

^ Campbell's Hiatory of Virginia, 543. 

^ The two last resolutions, which were struck oat by the Hoase, are 
giyen bj Jadge Marshall in the words above quoted from Gordon. 


the Stamp Act created a widespread and intense 
excitement. They were hailed as the action of the 
oldest, and hitherto the most loyal of the colonies ; 
and as raising a standard of resistance to the de- 
tested Act. Mr. Otis pronounced them treasona- 
ble,^ and this was the verdict of the Government 
party. But, treasonable .or not, they struck a chord 
which vibrated throughout America. Hutchinson 
declared that, "nothing extravagant appeared in 
the papers till an account was received of the Vir- 
ginia resolves." * Soon the bold exclamation of Mr. 
Henry in moving them was published, and he was 
hailed as the leader raised up by Providence for the 
occasion. The Boston Gazette declared : " The peo- 
ple of Virginia have spoken very sensibly, and the 
frozen politicians of a more northern government say 
they have spoken treason." But the people were no 
longer to be held down by " the frozen politi- 
cians," north or south. They commenced to form 
secret societies pledged to the resistance of the Act 
by all lawful means, which were called " The Sons 
of Liberty." The first notice of the existence of 
these associations seems to have been in the Boston 
Gazette^ July 22, 1765, which describes them as fonn- 
ing in the several colonies. They were composed 
for the most part of the laboring classes, but were 
guided by able and influential leadei^s, and were the 
mainspring of the popular demonstrations against 
the Government. After a while they became open in 
their actions and published their proceedings. By 
their correspondence they united the continent in 
opposition to the Act, and pledged themselves to 

1 HntohiiiBon^B Hietorj of Hafifiaohnsetts, ill., 119. 
' (Joidon's History of American Revolution, i., 187. 


defend any who might be in danger from their 

By some a system of passive resistance was de- 
termined on, and ajijreemeots to encourage home 
manufactures and to discontinue importations were 
entered into. They laid hold of the advice of Dr. 
Franklin, and adopted "Frugality and Industiy," as 
their watchwords. In this movement the women of 
America were conspicuous. 

In Virginia the effect of the stand taken by the 
Assembly was early reported by Governor Fau- 
quier to the Ministiy. He wrote, June 14; "Gov- 
ernment is set at defiance, not having strength 
enough iu her hands to enforce obedience to the 
laws of the Community. The private distress, 
which every man feels, increases the general dissatis- 
faction at the duties laid by the Stamp Act, which 
breaks out and shows itself upon every trifling oc- 
casion." * 

The excitement of the people was greatly increased 
by the publication of the names of the stamp dis- 
tributors, who were at once denounced as traitors to 
the cause of libei-ty ; and the feeling of indignation 
at the contemplated wrong rose so high that it was 
impossible to restrain it 

The first public disturbances were in Massachu- 
setts. They commenced in the city of Boston, on 
August 12, 1765. On the morning of the 14th, an 
effigy of Oliver, the stamp distributor for the col- 
ony, was discovered hanging on the limb of an old 
elm near the entrance to the city, ever after known 
as " Liberty Tree." At once a crowd collected, and 

■ Frothinghom'a BIm of the Bepnblio, 188. 
' HvAtfa SpMoh on AmeiioMi TuftUon. 





a riot commenced with the cry of, " Liberty, Prop- 
erty, and no Stamps ! " which was not quieted till 
Oliver had resigned his office. On August 26 an- 
other riot broke out, which destroyed the records 
of the Admiralty Court, and left the dwelling of 
Hutchinson in ruins. These disturbances were fol- 
lowed by similar uprisings in other towns of Massa- 
chusetts,^ and in other colonies, and before Novem- 
ber, when the Act was to go into effect, every per- 
son who had been appointed stamp distributor had 
been forced to resign, and all the stamps landed had 
been destroyed. The spirit which animated the peo- 
ple may be judged by the resolves of a large meet- 
ing of the Sons of Liberty of the county and town 
of Norfolk, Va., March 31, 1766. After expressing 
loyalty to the King, and readiness **when consti- 
tutionally called upon, to assist his Majesty with 
our lives and fortunes, and defend all his just rights 
and prerogatives," they 

" Hesolvedj That we will by all lawful ways and 
means which Divine Providence hath put into our 
hands, defend ourselves in the full enjoyment of, 
and preserve inviolate to posterity, tnose inesti- 
mable privileges of all free-bom British subjects, of 
being taxed by none but representatives of their own 
choosing, and of being tried only by a jury of their 
own peers ; for if we quietly submit to the execu- 
tion of the said Stamp Act, all our claims to civil 
liberty will be lost, and we and our posterity be- 
come absolute slaves. 

" Reaolvedf That we will, on any future occasion, 
sacrifice our lives and fortunes, in concurrence with 
the other Sons of Liberty in American provinces, to 

> Frothingham's Biie of the Republic, 184, nobe. 


defend and preserve those invaluable blessings trans- 
mitted by our ancestors. 

^^ Hesolvedj That whoever is concerned, directly 
or indirectly, in usiog, or causing to be used, in any 
way or manner whatever, within this colony, unless 
authorized by the General Assembly thereof, those 
detestable papers called stamps, shall be deemed to 
all intents and purposes, an enemy to his country, 
and by the Sons of Liberty treated accordingly." ^ 

These were but the echo of Mr. Henry's resolu- 

All classes imited in resistance to the Act. On 
November 4, General Gage wrote from New York : 

" It is difficult to say, from the highest to the low- 
est, who has not been accessory to this insurrection, 
either by writing or mutual agreements to oppose 
the Act, by what they are pleased to term all legal 
opposition to it. Nothing effectual has been pro- 
posed either to prevent or quell the tumult. The 
rest of the provinces are in the same situation as to 
a positive refusal to take the stamps ; and threaten- 
ing those who shall take them to plunder and mur- 
der them ; and this affair stands in all the provinces, 
that unless the Act from its own nature enforce it- 
self, nothing but a very considerable military force 
can do it." 

The Rev. James Maury, the defeated plaintiff in 
the Parsons' Cause, but now the ardent admirer of 
Mr. Henry's doctrine of liberty, wrote December 31, 
1765, to Mr. John Fountaine of London: * 

" But what has given a most general alarm to all 
the colonists on this continent, and most of those in 

1 Virginia mstorical Register, vi, 213. 
' History of a HugaeDOt Familj, 424. 


the islands, and strack us with the most universal 
consternation that ever seized a people so widely dif- 
fused, is a late Act of the British Parliament, sub- 
jecting us to a heavy tax. . . • The execution 
of this Act was to have commenced on the first of 
the last month all over British America, but hath 
been, with unprecedented unanimity, opposed and 

Erevented by every province on the continent, and 
y all the islands, wnence we have any advices from 
that date. For this 'tis probable some may brand 
us with the odious name of rebels, and others may 
applaud us for that generous love of liberty which 
we inherit from our forefathers." 

Washington wrote, in 1767, to a correspondent 
in England : 

^^ Had the Parliament of Great Britain resolved 
upon enforcing it, [the Stamp Act] the consequences, 
I conceive, would have been more direful than is 
generally apprehended, both to the mother country 
and to her colonies." ^ 

The spirit of resistance displayed by the people 
was reflected in the assemblies which met during 
the fall. All of them followed the lead of Virginia, 
and adopted substantially her resolutions, sometimes 
using the same language. The invitation of Massa- 
chusetts to meet in a congress, at first coldly re- 
ceived, was now accepted, and every assembly. hav- 
ing an opportunity sent delegates. When the body 
met, instead of confining themselves to their call for 
a " dutiful, loyal, and humble representation of their 

> For the yiolent prooeedingi in the eeyeral odonies see The Birth of 
the Bepnblic, 16-67. 


condition to his Majesty and to Parliament, and 
to implore relief," they commenced by declaring, 
"the rights and grievances of the colonies," in 
which they reiterated the ground taken in the Vir- 
ginia resolutions, and claimed that the Stamp Act, 
and the act extending the jurisdiction of admiralty 
courts in which the right to a trial by jury was 
denied, "have a manifest tendency to subvert the 
rights and liberties of the colonists." The same 
high ground was taken in the addresses they sent to 
the King and Parliament, and so strongly were they 
expressed that Mr. Buggies declined to sign them, 
and Mr. Otis hesitated to do so, but was induced to 
affix his name by Thomas Lynch of the South Caro- 
lina delegation.^ 

The persons who watched events for the informa- 
tion of the Government, all united in ascribing to 
the Virginia resolutions the determined opposition 
to the execution of the Stamp Act which was thus 
manifested.* John Hughes wrote from Pennsylva- 
nia, "the fire began in Virginia." Governor Ber- 
nard wrote from Massachusetts : 

" Two or three months ago I thought that this 
people would submit to the Stamp Act. Murmurs 
were indeed continually heard, but they seemed to 
be such as would die away. The publishing the 
Virginia resolutions proved an alarm-bell to the dis- 

General Gage, commanding the British forces, 
wrote from New York^ to Secretary Conway, 

> Gordon, L, 121. ' Bancroft, v., 278, and Gordon, i., 137. 

> Gage to Conwaj, September 28, 1765. 



September 23, 1765, in a letter laid before Parlia- 

" The resolves of the assembly of Virginia, which 
yon will have seen, gave the signal for a general 
ont-ciy over the continent, and though I do not 
find tnat the assemblies of any other province have 
come to resolutions of the same tendency, they have 
been applauded as the protectors and assertors of 
American liberty ; and all persons excited and en- 
couri^ed bj writings in the public papers, and 
speeches, without any reserve, to oppose the execu- 
tion of the Act/^ 

Burke, in his great speech on American taxation, 
delivered in the House of Commons April 19, 1774, 
declared, " on the information received from the sev- 
eral governors," that the Virginia resolutions were 
the cause of the insurrections in Massachusetts and 
the other colonies. 

No less distinct was the testimony of the patriots 
in America. Mr. Jefferson stated to Mr. Wirt, that 
" Mr. Heniy certainly gave the first impulse to the 
ball of the revolution." Edmund Randolph in his 
history says : " On May 29, 1765, Mr. Henry plucked 
the veil from the shrine of parliamentary omnipo- 
tence." John Adams wrote to Mr. Henry, June 3, 
1776,^ in reference to his part in framing the con- 
stitution for the State of Virginia : " I know of none 
so competent to the task as the author of the first 
Virginia resolutions against the Stamp Act, who will 
have the glory with posterity of beginning and con- 
cluding this great revolution." And the able writer, 
Jonathan Sewall (or Daniel Leonard), who, over the 

> Life and Woiks of John AdamB, toI. ix., p. 886. 


ngnatiire of '^ Massachusettensisi" engaged Jolin 
Adams in a political controversy in 1774, wrote : ^ 

''Some months after it was known tliat- the 
Stamp Act was passed, some resolves of the Honse 
of Bnigesses in Virginia, denyiiu; the right of parliap 
ment to tax the colonies, made their appearance 
We read them with wonder ; they savored of inde- 
pendence ; they flattered the human passions ; the 
reasoning was specious; we wished it conclusive. 
The transition to believing it so was easy, and we, 
almost all America, followed their example in resolv- 
ing tibat the parliament had no such ri^t It now 
became unpopular to suggest the contrarv, his life 
would be m danger that asserted it. The news- 
papers were open to but one side of the question ; 
and the inflammatory pieces that issued weeUy 
from the press, worked up the populace to a fit 
temper to commit the outrages that ensued/' 

America was filled with Mr. Henry's fame, and 
he was recognized on both sides of the Atlantic as 
the man who rang the alarm bell which had aroused 
the continent His wonderful powers of oratory 
engaged the attention and excited the admiration 
of men, and the more so as they were not considered 
the result of laborious training, but as the direct 
gift of Heaven. Long before the British poet ap- 
plied the description to him, he was recognized as 

^the forest-bom Demosthenes 

Whose thnnder shook the Philip of the seas.* 

And such was his fame, that, in the estimation of 
John Adams, to enjoy his fnendsEip was a badge of 
distinction. He notes in his diary, July 22, 1770, 

1 See extracts in Life and Works of John Adams, !▼., 60. 
* BTzon's, The Age of Bronae. 



meeting Colonel Severn Eyre, ^^ an intimate friend of 
Mr. Patrick Henry, the first mover of the Virginia 
resolves in 1765." ^ 

On the publication of Wirt's sketch of Henry 
Mr. Adams wrote to the author, contesting the 
statement that Mr. Henry brought on the American 
Revolution by his resolutions of May 29, 1765, and 
claiming that James Otis was entitled to that honor, 
in his speech in 1761, resisting writs of assistance. 
Mr. Adams reiterated this claim in communications 
to others, and in describing the speech of Otis as 
"a flame of fire," said, *'The child Independence 
was then and there born. Every man of an im- 
mense crowded audience appeared to me to go away 
as I did, ready to take up arms against writs of 
assistance." This claim is effectually disposed of 
by Wells, in his life of Samuel Adams,' who states 
with great accuracy that "the argument of Otis 
was not the prologue of the great drama, for it did 
not then begin. The American Revolution was 
caused by, and opened with, the revenue acts. The 
direct issue in that struggle, was the raising of a 
revenue from the colonies without their consent, and 
without their being represented in Parliament 
Independence was gained in consequence of the 
assertion of the right of unconditional taxation 
by Parliament, whence grew in regular sequence 
every phase, in the ten years of controversy with the 
royid governors preceding the war. It was not till 
1765 that the Stamp Act passed and received the 
royal assent, and the Revolution was bom with the 
popular resistance to that measure and the Acts of 
1763." This would have been a complete answer 

> Life and Worln of John Aduna, iL, 849. * Vol. i., 44. 


to Mr. Adams, had he not answered himself in his 
letter to Mr. Henry of June 8, 1776. But Mr. 
Wells, after disposing of Mr. Otis's claim, prefers 
one for Samuel Adams, ^ who drew the Boston 
instructions of May 24, 1764, remonstrating against 
the proposal to pass a stamp act, and advising a 
imited protest against it ; which the author claims 
was, ^^the first public denial of the right of the 
British Parliament to tax the colonists without their 
consent, and the first sug^restion of a union of the 
colonies for redress of gnfyances." « 

Far be it from the wiiter to detract from the 
just meed of praise due to James Otis or Samuel 
Adams, whose great services entitle them to lasting 
honors, by all who value the principles of the Amer- 
ican Revolution. Undoubtedly the speech of Otis 
in 1761, and the instructions to the Boston dele- 
gates drawn by Adams in 1764, had much to do 
with preparing the public mind for the resistance to 
the execution of the Stamp Act which broke out in 
1765. But the same may be said of all the public 
discussions, written and oral, which took place in 
the colonies prior to 1765, in which the rights of 
the colonies were maintained. The resolutions of 
the assemblies in 1764, and 1765, set forth, that the 
sole right to tax themselves had been constantly 
claimed by the colonies, and had been admitted by 
Great Britain. Mr. Adams himself, in a reply to 
the Governor's speech to the Massachusetts Assem- 
bly, drawn in October, 1765, uses this language: 
" The right of the colonies to make their own laws 
and tax themselves has been never, that we know 
of, questioned ; but has been constantly recognized 

1 Well8*8 Life of Samuel Adams, L, 145. * Id., 48. 


by the King and Parliament" ^ We have seen the 
action of the Virginia Assembly in 1624. In 1645 ' 
it solemnly '^ enacted and confirmed that no learies 
be raised within the Collony, but by a Generall 
Grand Assembly." And in the articles of surrender 
to the forces of Cromwell, in 1651, it was provided : 
« That Virginia shall be free from all taxes, cus- 
tomes and impositions whatsoever, and none to be 
imposed on them without the consent of the General 
Assembly. And so that neither fortes nor castles 
be erected, or garrisons maintained without their 
consent" ' 

As to the idea of union, for protection, the Colo- 
nies had long been familiar with it^ It had been 
particularly recommended by the Albany Conven- 
tion in 1754, and though not seen to be necessary 
then, was at once recognized as necessary when 
the mother country developed her system of taxa- 

The claim of Mr. Adams's biographer cannot there- 
fore be sustained in either particular ; and to con- 
test the claim put up for, and by, Mr. Henry, on 
such grounds, is to show a misapprehension of what 
that claim is. As stated by Mr. Henry it is, that 
the passage by the Virginia House of Burgesses of 
his resolutions of May 29, 1765, formed the first op- 
position to the Stamp Act after its passage; and by 
their popular effect, the great point of resistance to 
British taxation was universally established in the 
Colonies, and the Revolutionary War was thus 
brought on. All that had been done concerning 
the Stamp Act before their passage, had been by 

> WelLi*8 Life of Samuel Adaiii% 78. ' Hening, toI. i, 820. 

* Id., 864. « Biae of the Bepablio» 3&-0. 


way of protest against an act proposed ; what these 
resolutions accomplished, was resistance to an act 
passed. The first was mere protect against pro- 
posed action, the last rebellion against action had. 
It is plain, from the entry on the journal of the 
House, that the object of the House was to inaugu- 
rate opposition to the enforcement of the Act The 
House was asked to go into comniittee of the whole, 
"to consider the steps necessary to be taken in 
consequence of the resolutions of the House of 
Commons of Great Britain, relative to the charging 
certain stamp duties in the Colonies and Plantations 
in America." The committee, by reporting the 
resolutions agreed to, showed that they considered 
them as the proper answer to the House of Com- 
mons, and the reiteration of the principles contained 
in the five resolutions reported, was a bold defiance 
of Parliament. That they were so considered, is the 
only explanation of the violent opposition they met 
with, in and out of the House. Governor Fauquier 
styles them, " this rash heat," and justifies his dis- 
solution of the Assembly by giving the passage of 
the four, found on the journal, as the reason of his 
conduct Secretary Conway, in his reply to Gov- 
ernor Fauquier, September 14, 1765,^ says: "The 
Ministry persuade themselves, that when a full 
assembly shall calmly and maturely deliberate on 
these resolutions, they will see, and be themselves 
alarmed, at the dangerous tendency and mischievous 
consequences which they might be productive of, 
both to the mother country and to the colonies;" 
thus showing that the Ministry considered them 

* See letter in note to Eyerett's Life of Heniy, in Sparka's American 
Bic^rraphy, 898. 


treasonable. But the most overwhelming proof of 
the assertion of Mr. Henry as to the effect of his 
resolutions, is to be found in the unanimous contem- 
porary evidence, establishing the fact that their 
publication caused the resistance to the execution 
of the Stamp Act, which was the opening scene in 
the drama of the Revolution. 



Ghaoge in the British Ministiy. — ^Repeal of the Stamp Act with Claim 
of Power in Parliament over Colonie&^Joy in England and 
America. — ^The New Assembly. — ^Division of Office of Speaker 
and Treasurer. — ^Friendship of Richard Henry Lee and Mr. Hen- 
ry. — ^Aots for Additional Taxation on Importation of SlaTee, 
and for Relieving Quakers from Military Service. — ^Fragment of 
a Paper by Mr. Henry. — ^Persecution of Baptist Ministers. — ^Mr. 
Henry Enlists in their Defence. — ^His Success at the Bar. — ^Prac- 
tises in the General Court. — His Power over Juries. — ^Descrip- 
tion of Him as He Appeared in the General Court, Given by 
Judge St. George Tucker. 

Whew America was aroused to the point of re- 
sistance to the Stamp Act, intelligence was received 
of a change in the Ministry which greatly strength- 
ened the patriot party in their determination. The 
Duke of Cumberland, the stern conqueror on the 
field of CuUoden, became Prime Mijiister, and they 
could have nothing to hope for from him indeed ; 
but their defender on the floor of Parliament, Gen- 
eral Conway, was the new Secretary for the Colonies, 
and through him they trusted Parliament would be 
induced to repeal the Act. On the night before 
the Act was to take effect the Duke died suddenly, 
and this left the Ministry unsettled in their policy 
as regards the serious disturbances reported in all 
the colonies. Parliament was called together to 
consult as to the measures to be adopted. Papers 
were laid before the body showing the condition of 


the colonies, and among tliem the Virginia resolu- 
tions as the exciting cause of the disturbances. The 
merchants of London trading to North America rep- 
resented that the Stamp Act had greatly injured 
their trade, and prayed for relie£ Witnesses were 
examined, and among the number Dr. Franklin. In 
the House of Commons, Pitt urged a repeal of the 
Act in one of the most brilliant of his displays, in 
which he denied the right of Parliament to tax 
America, ridiculed the idea of her representation in 
Parliament, and exclaimed, ^^ I rejoice that America 
has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to 
all the feeling of liberty as voluntarily to submit to 
be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make 
slaves of the rest.'' 

In the House of Lords, Lord Camden maintained 
the cause of the colonies with great power. He 

" My position is this — I repeat it, I will maintain it 
to my last hour — taxation and representation are in- 
separable ; this position is founded on the laws of nat- 
ure ; it is more, it is itself an eternal law of nature ; 
for whatever is a man's own is absolutely his own ; 
no man hath a right to take it from him without his 
consent, either expressed bv himself or representa- 
tive ; whoever attempts to do it attempts an injury ; 
whoever does it commits a robbery ; he throws 
down and destroys the distinction between liberty 
and slavery. Taxation and representation are co- 
eval with, and essential to, this constitution." 

With such champions as these the repeal of the 
.Act was carried, but their bold utterances deter- 
mined a majority to put the repeal on the ground 
of expediency, and to declare explicitly that the 


King and Parliment, ^^ had, hath, and of right ought 
to have, full power and authority to make laws and 
statutes, of sufficient force and validity to bind the 
colonies and people of America, subjects of the 
Crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatever." 

Mr. Henry had very quietly returned to his home 
and his profession, after a ten days' service in the 
Assembly, which in its far-reaching results was in- 
calculable. He had raised the standard of resistance 
to British power exercised for the destruction of 
American rights, and he saw the thirteen colonies 
rally around it He was soon to realize that he had 
given the initial impulse to the American Revolu- 
tion, the great event of the eighteenth century. 

The feelings with which he had made this bold 
stand for the liberties of America may be learned 
in his own words, as reported by his friend Judge 
Tyler to Mr. Wii-t.^ Judge Tyler wrote : 

"In a conversation with him once at his own 
house, upon his first essay into the political world, 
I asked him how he ventured to lift his voice 
against so terrible a junto as that he had to oppose, 
when he firat stirred the country to assert its 
political rights. His replv was, that he was con- 
vinced of the rectitude oi the cause and his own 
views, and that although he well knew that many 
a just cause had been lost, and for wise purposes 
Providence might not interfere for its safety, yet he 
was well acquainted with the great extent of our 
back country, which would always afford him a 
safe retreat from tyranny, but he was always satisfied 
that a united sentiment and sound patriotism, would 
carry us safely to the wished for port, and if the 

< MS. Letter. 


people wonld not die or be £ree, it was of no conse- 
qnence what sort of goTemment they lived under." 

The repeal of the Stamp Act was signed by the 
King, March 18, 1766, and caused a burst of joy in 
England. The ships in the Thames displayed iheir 
colors, and the streets of London were illomiuated ; 
the King was cheered by the multitude, and Pitt 
received an ovation. In ^America the whole con- 
tinent exhibited one continued scene of joy and 
gratitnd& Loyal addresses were voted by the 
Assemblies, expressing dependence on the C^wn, 
reverence for Parliament, and devotion to the 
constitution. The Sons of Liberty dissolved their 
association, and the people anticipated t^e con- 
tinuance of a happy and prosperous union with 
England. Some of the more thoughtful saw, in the 
reiterated claim of Parliament to unlimited power 
over the colonies, the fountain of future trouble ; 
but the masses believed it to be a mere political 
abstraction, which would never i^ain become a 
practical question. 

In Virginia the joy of the people was overflowing. 
In Norfolk and Williamsburg there were balls and 
illuminations, and everjrwhere the people exhibited 
their delight at their happy deliverance. 

The new Assembly met November 6, and was 
composed of the most ardent of the patriots. The 
old members who had supported Mr. Henry's 
resolutions were returned, when willing to serve, 
and those who had opposed them had fallen into 
the popular current, or lost their seats. John Rob- 
inson having died, Peyton Randolph was elected 
Speaker, and expected to fill the office of Treasurer 



as well, which had been temporarily filled by Bobert 
Garter Nicholas, the appointee of the QoremoT. 

Upon the assembling of the House a bill was 
introduced and passed for erecting a statue to the 
Eling, and an obelisk to commemorate the worthy 
patriots who had contributed to the repeal of the 
Stamp Act A new county, set off from Halifax, 
was named Pittsylvania, in honor of Pitt, and its 
parish in honor of Camden. The addresses voted 
to the King and Parliament were not behind those 
of the other colonies, in expressions of loyalty and 

An investigation of the accounts of the old 
Speaker was ordered, which revealed a large deficit 
caused by loans to his friends, which was afterwards 
replaced by the sale of his large estate. Richard 
Henry Lee brought forward a bill for the division 
of the offices of Speaker and Treasurer, which 
caused a warm and bitter contest. The friends of 
the Speaker, led by Edmund Pendleton, stoutly op- 
posed it, and Mr. Henry warmly supported it. The 
bill was passed, and a salary was affixed to the 
office of Speaker to maintain its dignity. The result 
greatly aided the patriot cause in after years, as it 
made the Speaker more the servant of the House. 
The animosities engendered in the contest, however, 
lasted for years, and were shown in the conduct of 
the defeated party toward both Lee and Henry on 
more than one occasion. While some others looked 
on him with jealous eyes, Mr. Henry gained the 
ardent and lasting friendship of Lee. They were 
now for the first time brought together, and mutual 
admiration, and coincidence of views on public 
questions, soon made them bosom friends. 



The Assembly passed two acts worthy of note, 
which, if not moved by Mr, Henry, certainly gave 
expression to his views. One was laying an addi- 
tional tax on the importation of slaves; and the 
other for the exemption of Quakers from military 
service, a step in the direction of religious tolera- 

The views of Mr. Henry on the important ques- 
tions of religious liberty, slavery, and home manufac- 
tures, are indicated by a fragment of a manuscript in 
his handwriting found with his papers, which was 
evidently prepared about this time. This, the 
earliest production of his pen remaining, completely 
refutes the statement of Mr. Jefferson to Mr. 
Webster, that Mr. Henry " could not write." ^ It is 
as follows : 

'^ Reprehension seldom is the duty of a minister. 
A good life is the best lecture. But if it happens 
that a life is so wicked as to become notoriously 
offensive, (in which case only a minister is supposed 
to make personal application,) such a man ceases to 
be popular. For 1 dare affirm, that vice never in 
any country was held in reverence for its own sake, 
and so far as a man is openly wicked, he is unpopu- 
lar. If it should be that a dependent minister, hav- 
ing incurred the displeasure of a powerful person, 
and for doing his dulgr, should raise such an opposi- 
tion as he could not be able to resist, the unpreju- 
diced everywhere would revere him as a victim to 
wicked intrigues, and heap their deserved benefac- 
tions upon hun. But I have proved above that the 
toleration proposed is the surest method to give us 
a virtuous clergy. It is the business of a virtuous 
clergyman to censure vice in every appearance of 

1 GuitiA's Life of Webster, i., Appendix. 


it. Therefore under a general toleration this duty 
will be commonly attended to. 

" Will anyone censure me as an innovator ? I care 
not 'Tis prudent to adopt the policy of other 
countrys, wnen experience snows it to be wiser than 
our own in anything. Most nations have learned 
from abroad those sciences and arts that embellish 
and sweeten human life. This is the greatest ad- 
vantage arising from a social intercourse amon^ na- 
tions, and keeps the civilized world cemented to- 
f ether like one great family. The example of the 
Torthem Colonys is striking. England received the 
manufactui'es oi wool, glasses, paper, hats, etc., from 
Flemish and French workmen, invited there under 
the direction of its wisest sovereigns. The English 
ship-builders are allured to the neighboring states 
by the greatest rewards. The best policyed coun- 
trys borrow improvements in the art of war from 
their neighbors, and under foreign generals have 
been led to victory and conquest. The period in 
which the present settlement of religion was made 
here, does no great honor to the English nation. 
Colonys on the continent have experienced a more 
enlarged system ; and their growtn and real pros- 
perity, are the just encomiums of that policy from 
which those countiys received their happy constitu- 

" I cannot do justice to a subject so copious and 
important. in a few pages. I abridge everything. 
Much learning hath been displayed to show the ne- 
cessity of establishing one church in England in the 
present form. But these reasonings do not reach 
the case of this colony ; and granting they did, per- 
haps I could not answer them, as I have neither 
leisure nor abilitys to write a volume on the sub- 

" It is out of my province to attempt a ref orma- 
tion in the church ; nor should I have meddled with 




it, but I see clearly the evils we feel can only be re- 
dressed by the proposed alteration. The disadvan- 
tage from the great number of slaves may perhaps 
wear off, when the present stock and their descend- 
ants are scattered tnrough the immense deserts in 
the West. To re-export them is now impracticable, 
and soiTy I am for it. 

" If anyone doubts the truths asserted here, I be- 
seech him to reflect wherefore is it, that a country, 
I say the happvest for situation on the continent, 
blest with a soil producing not only the necessarys 
but the luxurys of life ; rail of rivers, havens and 
inlets, that invite the visits of commerce for the 
products of industry ; and bordered with extended 
plains, that instead of lonely scattered huts, might 
be covered with magnificent citys ; wherefore is it 
that a country producing the choicest grain, stock, 
wool, fish, hemp, flax, metals of the North, together 
with the corn, pulp, rice, wine, fruits and most of 
• those delicacys found in southern climes, should 
want the common conveniencys, the necessarys of 
life. I will not enumerate the good things our 
country may produce. Let me ask what it will not 
produce? The truth is anything but inhabitants 
sensible of its value. 

" How comes it that the lands in Pennsylvania 
are five times the value of ours ? Pennsvlvania is 
the country of the most extensive privileges with 
few slaves. A Dutch, Irish, or Scotch emigrant 
finds there his religion, his priest, his language, his 
manners, and everything, but that poverty and op- 
pression he left at home. Take an instance nearer 
to us. The country beyond the mountains is settled 
on a plan of economy very different from ours. 
Europeans, instead of Africans, till the lands, and 
manufacture. The tax to the established Church 
is scarcely felt. The people brought their priests 
with them. The lands m some parts there are 


afanost ae dear at at Willianuborgbj and notwitfa- 
standjng the manv diBadvante^ arudng from rit* 
nathni, tbey are uie most flonnslmig parts of Vir^ 
g^nia, and thu in a few years. Hannfaetorers have 
1 them. By this meaau they hare * the 

money ' * prodnced. 

" I agree entirely with those who insist on the 
necessity oi home numofactares. We differ in the ' 
means of procuring them. To what pnipose do we 
offer premiums, when experience tells ns no .one 
win obtun them 1. Common sense informs ns that 
the first thii^ to be thought of is mannfactnrera. 
llifl present inhabitants of the oolcmy most manv- 
factwK under great disadvantage, for the connlrys 
with whom we are connected send continual supplys • 
to our doors, offering to take in Barter those com* 
moditys, the culture of which we understand. If 
attempts are made, we find the many difficulties at- 
tending them too great to be conquered. It must 
ever be so till we nave procured oumbers of skilful 
artists. A planter willing to go upon the new plan, 
can't have spinners of wool and flax, a tanner, a 
shoemaker, a weaver, a fuller, etc., in his own fam- 
ily. He must travel continaally great distances to 
find these several people, and when he hath found 
them, they are bunglers, and extravagant in their 
chains. He is rid of this trouble and perplexity 
by going to a store. 

"But I need not say aoything to prove the 
great utility of importing good artisans. A gen- ' 
eral toleration of Beligion appears to me the oest 
means of peopling our country, and enabling our 
people to procure those necessarys among them- 
selves, the purchase of which fi'om abroad has 
so nearly ruined a colony, enjoying, from nature 
and time, the means of becoming we most pros- 
perous on the continent. Our country will be 

> ObUtmtod in MS. 


peopled. The question is, shall it be with Euro- 
peans or Africans ? To do it with the latter will 
take many years; with the former 'tis quickly 
done. Is there a man so degenerate as to wish to 
see his country the gloomy retreat of slaves ? No ; 
while we may, let us people our lands with men 
who secure our internal peace, and make us respect- 
able abroad ; who will contribute ^ influence 
and stablish in posterity the benefit of the British 

" Tell me no more of ideal wealth. Away with 
the schemes of paper money and loan offices, cal- 
culated to feed extravagance, and revive expiring 

" To many the observations above will seem of 
small weight. When I say that the article of re- 
ligion is deemed a trifle by our people in the gen- 
eral, I assert a known truth. But when we sup- 
pose that the poorer sort of European emigrants set 
as light bv it, we are greatlv mistaken. The free 
^ exercise oi religion hath stocked the Northern part 
* of the continent with inhabitants ; and altho' Eu- 
rope hath in great measure adopted a more moder- 
ate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is 
extremely inconvenient in manv places there. A 
Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt 
these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Vir- 
ginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater de- 

This paper shows not only that Mr, Henry could 
write, but that he entertained the views of a pro- 
found statesman as to the duty of his fellow-citizens 
in shaping the destinies of the colony. 

Pleasing evidence of his liberal views is found in 
the diary of Rachel Wilson, a Quakeress, and the 

> OUitozftted in MS. 


grandmother of the celebrated John Bright, who 
made a tour in Virginia in 1769. She wrote at 
Williamsburg, March 81 : ** We returned that 
night to Francis Clark's. Called by the way to see 
one of the Assemblymen, who was a man of great 
moderation, and had appeared in Friends' favour; 
his name was Patrick Henry. He received us with 
great civility, and made some sensible remark& We 
had an open time in the famUy." 

Mr. Henry found abundant opposition, however, 
among the old leaders to his views on religious lib- 
erty. Among the Dissenters who appeared in the 
colony the Baptists commenced to attract attention 
at this period. Their great earnestness and zeal 
in proclaiming the gospel as they understood it, ex- 
cited the bitter hostility of many of the Established 
Church, and in the year 1768 a regular persecution 
was commenced in some of the counties against 
them, by arresting their preachers, as disturbers of 
the peace who refused to submit to the requirements 
of the Toleration Act. Edmund Pendleton and 
Archibald Gary, in their respective counties, were 
active in this movement. 

Semple, who knew personally some of the minis- 
ters who thus suffered imprisonment, has recorded 
the obligations of his denomination to Mr. Henry in 
their day of trial. He relates, in his " History of 
the Baptists in Virginia," their attempts to obtain 
liberty of speech at the hands of the magistrates, 
and adds : ^ 

" It was in making these attempts that they were 
so fortunate as to interest in their behalf the cele- 

»P. 24. 


brated Patrick Henry; being always a friend of 
liberty, he only needed to be informed of their op- 
pression ; without hesitation he stepped forward to 
their relie£ From that time, until the day of their 
complete emancipation from the shackles of ty- 
ranny, the Baptist found in Patrick Heniy an un- 
wavering friend. May his name descend to pos- 
terity with unsullied honor ! " 

A characteristic incident of the times, and of Mr. 
Henry, was preserved and related by Rev. John 
W^atherford, one of the Baptist ministers. He 
was impiisoned for five months in the jail of 
Chesterfield,^ of which county Colonel Archibald 
Cary was the presiding magistrate, on the charge of 
creating a disturbance by preaching. By the aid of 
Mr. Henry he obtained an order of liberation. But 
the jailer refused to release him until the jail fees 
were paid, which from the length of his imprison- 
ment were a considerable sum, much larger than the 
poor minister could pay. He was therefore forced 
to remain in prison. Not long afterward he was 
informed that some one, whose name was con- 
cealed, had paid the charges, and he was set at 
liberty. With a thankful heart he walked out 
of the prison. More than twenty years after- 
ward, upon the removal of Mr. Henry to Char- 
lotte County, he became a neighbor of Mr. Weather- 
ford, who was then the pastor of a church near 
by, and in recounting their early experiences in 
the struggles for civil and religious liberty Mr. 
Weatherford learned for the first time, that Mr. 
Henry had paid for him the fees demanded by the 

> Taylor^a Baptist Ministera. Fixst Series. 



Chesterfield jailer.^ It need hardly be added, as 
stated by his biographer, that he never spoke of 
Mn Henry but with a glow of affection. 

Rev. John Waller, with other Baptist ministers, 
were impiisoned in Caroline County for preaching, 
as we are told by Semple ; and it was doubtless in 
reference to them that the following statement was 
made by Judge Spencer Roane, in his letter to Mr. 
Wirt, in which he said : " Mr. Pendleton, on the 
bench of Caroline court, justified the imprisonment 
of several Baptist preachers, who were defended by 
Mr. Henry, on the heinous charge of worshipping 
God according to the dictates of their own con- 
sciences.'' * 

Mr. Waller, Lewis Craig, and James Childs were 
subjected to the fii'st of these imprisonments in 
Spottsylvania County in 1768, and it is quite 
certain that Mr. Henry appeared there in their de- 
fence, but the speech attributed to him on the 
occasion was made up in after years from doubtful 

By the unerring record of his fee books we are 
able to mark Mr. Henry's success and industry as a 
lawyer. In 1764 he charged five hundred and fifty- 
five fees; in 1765, five hundred and fifty-seven; in 
1766, when the colony was under great political 
excitement, his fees fell off to one hundred and 
fourteen ; in 1767 they reached five hundred and 
fifty-four, and then the renewal of the trouble with 

1 This incident was related by Mr. Weatherford to Colonel James P. 
Marshall, of Charlotte, the father-in-law of the author. Colonel Marshall 
died in December, 1883, at the age of m'nety-two. 


' Foote : Sketches of Virginia, 817. This matter is discussed in " The 
Beligioos Herald'' of Richmond, Va., February 23, 1871. 


England reduced his business, until finally, in 1774, 
the courts were closed. Thus he charged in 1769 
one hundred and thirty-two fees; in 1770, ninety- 
four; in 1771, one hundred and two; in 1772, 
forty-three; in 1778, seven; and in 1774, none. 
The fees in criminal cases are not noted on these 
books, and were additional. The fees charged 
were the moderate ones of that period, and after 
allowing for the greater value of money, it is still 
obvious that it required great economy and good 
management to provide comfortably for his growing 
family. This he did, and in addition was able to 
lay the foundation of a comfortable estate. Such 
a practice demonstrates his industry, business capac- 
ity, and legal acquirement. 

In 1764 he commenced to loan money to his 
father, and in 1767 to his father-in-law. With the 
loans to his father he bought the ^^ Roundabout ^' 
tract in Louisa, and with the loans to Mr. Shelton 
he bought 3,335 acres of western lands. 

ITie following memorandum found on Mr. Henry's 
fee book, opposite to his account of charges against 
Mr. John Shelton, is of interest : 

" N. B. — ^Three tracts of Jno. Shelton's land in- 
cluded in his mortgage to me were given up to me 
by a writing recorded in Augusta court, whereby 
he released nis equity of redemption in 1,400 acres 
on Mockison CreeK, 940 on Holson river, and 995 
on Holson river, and the other three tracts I am 
willing to release to him. At first J. Shelton em- 
ployed me to sell the whole for him in the spring 
of 1766, when I advertised it at several public 
places in Staunton, & got Capt Wm. Fleming's as- 
sistance in the sale, as he lived toward that 



quarter. The utmost that was offered for the 
whole was £9 or £1U per hundred for that tract by 
Davis's. So it contmaed, and would not sell toler- 
ably till 1768. Mr. Shelton being greatly distressed 
for money by Joa. Crenshaw, and many others, 
and his estate like to be seized and sold for a 
trifle, I resolved to advance some money, as charged 
here for him, and to porchase 8,885 acres oi it 
The Lmd was long since lost for nonpayment of 
qnitrents, and except one tract of it, had not been 
seen sinee it was surveyed (vi&, about 20 years). 
I made a journey thither in company with Wnj. 
Henry, Wm. Ghnatian, &o. &c, to search for it, 
but could find one tract only. The land & ne- 
groes that Mr. Shelton obliged himself to ^ve me 
on marriage, were 10 negroes, & 400 acres land 
joining him in Hanover. He gave me only six 
negroes, and 300 acres of land. The deficiency will 
greatly overbalance any claim against me. The 
said land and all the country adjacent was allotted 
to the Indians by a treaty, and a line agreed upon 
from Chiswell's mines to the mouth of New River, 
which would have cut ofE the said lands on Holson 
and Clinch, and under that risque I purchased it, 
hoping that line would be altered. After many 
contests and much altercation with the Indians, our 
own people, government here, and administration at 
home, an extension of territory was purchased from 
the Indians, and the lands above were taken into 
this Colony, except part of one tract which the line 

Among the debits on the account with Mr. Shel- 
ton is the following : " 1764. To 1 tract of land in 
Hanover co'ty called Piney Slash, sold £350," 
which shows that he sold his Hanover tract to raise 
part of the money furnished Mr. Shelton. Will- 
iam Henry, mentioned in the above, was his 


brother, and William Christian was his brother-in- 
law. The latter was the son of Israel Christian, a 
merchant in Staunton, and a client of Mr. Henry. 
Before he was twenty years of age, William Christian 
had risen to the rank of captain in the Second Vir- 
ginia Regiment, commanded by Col. William Byrd 
during the French war. Some years after its 
close, probably about the year 1767, he had entered 
the office of Mr. Henry as a law student.^ Here he 
greatly endeared himself to him by his manly char- 
acter and fine sense. But he not only won the 
lasting regard of his instructor, he also won the af- 
fections of Mr. Henry^s favorite sister^ Anne, as the 
following extract of a letter from Colonel John 
Henry to his father relates : 

" Hanovbb, JanV 12th, 1768.* 

" Your son has for some time been making his ad- 
dresses to one of my daughters. I find the match 
is as good as concluded. It seems to depend chiefly 
on you — ^for as I can at present do nothing worth 
mentioning, and he has not much in possession. I 
should be pleased to know what you can do for 
him. At my wife's death, and mine, there will be 
some considerable estate to be divided among my 
daughters ; but it is of such a nature that it must 
be kept together for our support. My wife joins 
with me in our kind complem*" to you & Mrs. 
Christian. I am, 


" Your most h'ble servant, 

"John Henry. 
" To Isaac Christian, Esq.'' 

> Life and Times of Caleb Wallace, 74. 

* In the copy of the letter sent me the date ia 1728, Bat this is clearly 
a mistake, and the date is donbtless as above. 


Colonel John Henry was at this time engaged in 
preparing a map of Yirginiay which he published in 
London in 1770 at considerable cost.^ He applied 
to the Assembly of his State more than once for aid 
in his enterprise, but failed to obtain it, and finally 
sold his rights in the publication to his son Pat- 
rick, on May 19, 1770. He also conducted a clas- 
sical school in his house, by which he aided in the 
support of his family. 

In the year 1765 Mr. Henry moved to his place 
in Louisa Goimty, where he resided tUl the year 
1768, when he returned to Hanover. 

Having met on the floor of the Assembly some of 
the ablest lawyers in the colony, and found himself 
more than a match for them in debate, he was 
brought into contact with all the leaders of the pro- 
fession in the year 1769, by coming to the bar of 
the General Court Here he met Mr. FendletoUi 
John Randolph, the Attorney-General, Mr. Wythe, 
Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Mercer, Mr. Jefferson, and Mr. 
Thompson Mason. All were men of eminence in 
their profession. In describing him at this period. 
Judge Edmund Winston, who read law with him, 
says in his letter to Mr. Wirt : " It will perhaps be 
admitted that in reasoning on general piinciples he 
did not lose in comparison with any man, and I 
never heard that he betrayed a want of legal knowl- 
edge. It will naturally be asked. How was this 
possible ? To which I can only answer, that without 
much labor he acquired that information which in 
the case of other men is the result of painful re- 
search." And Judge Spencer Roane, his son-in-law, 

' A copy of this map wm in eziatenoe in Wanenton, Va.y whan 
Chailea Campbell wrote hia Hiatozy of Virginia. Bee p^ G2U 


noted the passage with the following words : " I 
believe this to have been entirely the case/' Judge 
Winston adds : " I have been told in Mr. Henry's 
f amily, that he employed a considerable part of his 
time in reading ; his library, however, except his law 
books, seems not to have been very well chosen, and 
it is, I believe, impossible to point out by what 
course of study he attained that intellectual excel- 
lence which he certainly possessed." Judge Roane 
says of his library later in life, " It consisted some- 
times of odd volumes,^ etc., but of good books." 
And the catalogue of his books given in by his exe- 
cutors proves this to be true. Mr. Henry seems to 

have followed, as regards books, the maxim, non 
multa sed muLtwm. 

After coming to the bar of the General Court, he 
added to his reputation as a lawyer by his appear- 
ance, in a case in Admiralty, as counsel for the cap- 
tain of a Spanish vessel which, with its cargo, had 
been libelled under the oppressive Navigation Act. 
After the trial, William Nelson, one of the Court, 
declai*ed that he had never heard a more eloquent 
or argumentative speech than Mr. Henry's ; that he 
considered him greatly superior to Mr. Pendleton, 
Mr. Mason, or any other counsel who argued the 
cause, and that he was astonished to find him so 
thoroughly familiar with maritime law, to which he 
believed he had never paid any attention before.* 

His attainments and fidelity as a lawyer received 
the highest testimonial in 1773, when Mr. Robert 
Carter Nicholas, who had enjoyed the first practice 
at the bar, and whose engagements as treasurer 

' Doubtlefls the result of frequent changes of residence. 
* MS. Statement of Captain George Dabn^ to Mr. Wirt. 




forced him to relinquish it, cpmmitted his unfiu- 
ished business to Mr. Henry by a public advertise- 

But while Mr. Henry had advanced to the fore- 
most rank in his profession when he became a prac- 
titioner in the General Court, the evidence of his 
contemporaries is that he was most distinguished, 
and therefore most sought after, in jury trials. His 
power over juries was something wonderful, and as 
a criminal lawyer he had no equal. Mr. Wirt has 
described his mode of defending criminals in lan- 
gui^e which will not be considered overdrawn, when 
we come to read the testimonies of eye-witneases at 
a later period of his \\£e^ He says, in summing up : 

" In short, he nnderatood the human character bo 
perfectly ; knew so well all its strength and all Its 
weakness, together with every patn and by-way 
which winds ari^und to the citadel of the best forti- 
fied heart and mind, that he never failed to take 
them, either by stratagem or storm. Hence he was, 
beyond donbt, the ablest defender of criminals in 
Virginia, ftnd will probably never be equalled 

Mr. Henry's appearance and maimer in the Gen- 
eral Court were described by Judge St. George 
Tucker, who first saw him in 1772, in a letter to 
Mr. "Wirt Young Tucker was then between nine- 
teen and twenty, and a student at the coU^e in 
Williamsburg. He says : 

" The General Court met in April Mr. Henry 
practised as a lawyer in it I attended very fre- 

< VWa Btnxj, 9»-H. 


quently ; generally sat near the clerk's table, directly 
opposite to the bar. I had now for the first time a 
near view of Mr. Henry's face. He wore a black 
suit of clothes and (as was the custom of the bar 
then^ a tie-wig, such as Mr. Pendleton wore till his 
deato. His appearance was greatly improved by 
these adventitious circumstances. His visage was 
long, thin, but not sharp, dark, without any appear- 
ance of blood in his cheeks, somewhat inclining to 
sallowness; his profile Was of the Roman cast, 
though his nose was rather long than high, his fore- 
head high and straight, but forming a considerable 
angle with the nose ; his eyebrows dark, long, and 
full ; his eyes a dark gray, not large, penetrating, 
deep-set in his head ; his eyelashes long and black, 
which, with the color of his eyebrows, made his 
eyes appear almost black ; a superficial view would 
indeed make it be supposed they were perfectly 
black ; his nose was of the Roman stamp, as I have 
already said ; his cheekbones rather high, but not 
like a Scots-man's ; they were neither as large, as 
near the eyes, nor as far apart as is the natives' of 
Scotland ; his cheeks hollow ; his chin long but 
well-formed, and rounded at the end, so as to form 
a proper counterpart to the upper part of his face. 
I find it difficult to describe his mouth, in which 
there was nothing remarkable, except when about 
to express a modest dissent fi*om some opinion upon 
whicn he was commenting ; he then had a half sort 
of smile, in which the ward of conviction was, per- 
haps, more strongly expressed than that cynical or 
satirical emotion which probably prompted it. His 
manner and address to tne court and jury might be 
deemed the excess of humility, diffidence, and mod- 
esty. If, as rarely happened, he had occasion to 
answer any remark from the bench, it was impossi- 
ble for meekness herself to assume a manner less 
presumptuous ; but in the smile, of which I have 

been mesidng, 70a might anticipate tibe want of 
conviction ezprrased in his answers, at the moment 
that he ntbmitted to the ' superior wisdom ' of the 
conrt, with a. grace that would have done honour to . 
the most polished conrtier in Westminster Hall. In 
his reply to comuel, his nmaxkB on the evidence, 
and on uie conduct of the parties, he preserved the 
same distingnished d^erence and politeness, still 
accompanied by the never-failing mdex of this 
sceptical smile when the occasion prompted. His 
manner was solenm and impresnve; his voie^ 
nnthfor remarkable for its pleasing tones, or the 
variety of its cadenc& nor for harstmess. If it was 
never melodions (as I rather think), it was never, 
however raised, harsh. It was clear, distinct, and 
capable of that emphasis which I incline to be- 
lieve constituted one of the greatest charms in 
Mr. Henry's manner. His countenance was grave 
(even when clothed with the half smile I have 
mentioned), penetrating, and marked with the 
strong lineaments of deep reflection. When speak- 
ing in public, he never (even on occasions when he 
excited it in others) had anything like pleasantry 
in his countenance, his manner, or the tone of his 
voice. You would sweai- he had never uttered or 
laughed at a joke. In short, in debate either at the 
bar or elsewhere, his manner was so earnest and im< 
pressive, united with a contraction or knitting of 
his browa which appeared habitual, as to give to 
his countenance a severity sometimes bordering 
upon the appearance of anger or contempt sup- 
pressed, while his language and gesture exhibited 
nothing but what was perfectly decorous. He was 
emphatic, without vehemence or declamation ; ani- 
mated, but never boisterous ; nervous, without re- 
course to intemperate language ; and clear, though 
not always methodical." ^ 

'HB. Letter to Ifr.mrtbi 1800. 



Deiennination of British Gbyenunent to Exercise the Bight of Tax- 
ation in the Colonies. — Billeting Bill, and Port Duties on Wine, 
Oil, etc. — Discussion of American Bights bj Able Writers 
through the Press. — ^Letter of Massachusetts Assembly in 1768 
to the Golonies on their Bights, drawn by Samuel Adams. — The 
Action of the Virginia Assembly. — ^Mr. Henry as a Leader. — 
Address of Parliament to King Gonoeming Trial of Americans 
in England. — Attempts to Separate other Oolonies from Massa- 
chusetts. — ^Virginia Determines to Make Common Cause with 
Her. — ^Non-importation Ag^ement Entered into by Virginians 
and other Colonists. — ^Difficulties of the Ministry, and Determi- 
nation to Bepeal Duty Act, Except as to Tea. — ^Popularity of 
Lord Botetourt as Governor. — ^Lidian Troubles. — ^Proposed 
Lines between the Whites and the Lidians. — Agreement not to 
Use Tea, and Committees in Counties to Enforce Agreement. 
— ^Mr. Henry as a Committee Man. — ^Death of Lord Botetourt. — 
Lord Dunmore Succeeds Him as Gbyemor. — New Assembly. — 
Protests against Slave Trade. — ^Mr. Henry on Slavery. 

The joy of the Colonies, at the repeal of the Stamp 
Act, was soon dampened, by the discovery of a per- 
sistent determination on the part of the British 
Government to exercise the contested right of taxa- 
tion. The King soon repented of having signed the 
repealing Act, which he regarded as a fatal com- 
pliance with the popular demand, and he deter- 
mined to uphold the claim of absolute authority 
over the colonies at all hazards. The intelligence 
of the repeal was accompanied with a direction to 
the Governors to recommend to the legislatures in- 
demnity to all sufferers by the late riots. The leg- 


islatures were also required to support the British, 
soldiers which might be quartered in the several 
colonies, and as New York was their headquarters,, 
the legislature of that colony was the first to feel 
the oppression of the Billeting Act. 

These matters were irritating, but were managed 
with discretion by the assemblies, which based 
whatever action they took, not on the requirements, 
of Parliament, but on their own right to grant what 
to them seemed best. 

The Rockingham ministry ended its brief exist 
ence in July, 1766, and was succeeded by one formed 
by Pitt, in which he only reserved to himself tha 
custody of the privy seal, being aware of the fact 
that his inveterate enemy, the gout, prevented hia 
engaging in laborious duties. He was raised ta the 
peerage with the title of Earl of Chatham, and ex- 
changed his leadership in the House of Commons 
for a seat in the House of Lords. By December his 
health had become so shattered that he left Loudon 
for Bath in a state of nervous prostration ; and the 
affairs of America, during the existence of a minis- 
try pledged to the liberal principles which caused 
the repeal of the Stamp Act, fell under the control 
of a member who was fully determined to main- 
tain the principles of that Act. On January 26, 
1767, Charles Townshend, Chancellor of the Exche- 
quer, taking advantage of Chatham's absence, de- 
clared in the House, that he knew the mode by which 
a revenue might be drawn from America without of- 
fence. " I am still," he continued, " a firm advocate 
for the Stamp Act, for its principle and for the duty 
itself ; only the heats which prevailed made it an im- 
proper time to pass it. I laugh at the absurd dis- 



tinctioD between internal and external taxes. I 
know no snch distinction. It is a distinction with- 
out a diiEerence ; it is perfect nonsense ; if we have 
a right to impose the one, we have a rightto impose 
the other ; the distinction is ridicnloos in the opin- 
ion of everybody, except the Americana." And 
looking np to the gallery where the colonial agents 
usually sat, he added, " I speak this aloud, that all 
yon who are in the galleries may hear me; and 
after this, I do not expect to have my statue erected 
in America." Then laying his hand on the table in 
front of him, he added, *' England is undone, if this 
taxation is given up." 

Finding that his speech was received with genend 
applause, Townshend was enabled to browbeat the 
members of the ministry in London. Chatham at- 
tempted to have him removed, but before accom- 
plishing his purpose he was taken so ill that he was 
forced to withdraw from public business, and like 
the sick lion in the fable, to suffer in his retirement 
the insults of those who once trembled at the sound 
of his voice. 

On May 13, 1767, Townshend proposed in the 
House, that the Assembly of New Yoik be prohib- 
ited from further legislation until they had com- 
plied fully with the requirements of the Billeting 
Act ; and that port duties, collectible in America, 
be laid on wine, oil, fruits, glass, paper, lead, col- 
ors, and tea. In the debates which followed, 
Thomas Pownall, who had been successively Gover- 
nor of Massachusetts and South Carolina, and Ed- 
mund Burke, who had been a clerk in the Colonial 
Office, both fully conversant with the temper of the 
Colonies, warned the House that they would not 


submit to be taxed by Parliament But it was 
known that the King favored the measures, and it 
was deliberately determined to continue the contest 
until the authority of Parliament was firmly estab- 
lished, and the landed interest in England was in a 
measure relieved of the burden of taxation. Both 
measures were adopted. The Act imposing duties 
was to take effect November 20, 1767, and to be en- 
forced by the King through a board of trade of his 
own appointment, who were to reside in the Colon- 
ies, and to act as he might direct. His commission 
armed this boai*d with a power of search and seiz- 
ure at their discretion, with authority to call upon 
the naval and military forces within the Colonies 
for aid, and with an exemption from prosecution or 
responsibility before any of the King's coui-ts for 
whatever they might do by any construction of their 
commission. The tyranny of the two measures 
could hardly be surpassed. 

The brilliant and erratic career of Townshend 
was cut short by death before the Duty Act took 
effect. Lord North succeeded him as Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, and the Earl of Hillsborough was 
made Secretary for the Colonies. 

In the meantime, the people of America had 
become well informed as to the principles of the 
controversy with Great Britain. Able writers com- 
manded public attention through the press, and dis- 
cussed American rights from every conceivable point 
of view. Among these writers there should be men- 
tioned Richard Bland, of Virginia, who published 
" An Inquiry into the Rights of the British Colo- 
nies " in 1766, pronounced by Mr. Jefferson to be 
the ablest discussion which appeared; Daniel Du- 


lauy, of Maryland, who pablished in October, 1765, 
" ConBiderations on the Propriety of Imposing Taxes 
on the British Colonies, etc.," a masterly perform- 
ance ; John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, who in No- 
vember, 1767, commenced the publication of a series 
of letters over the name of " A Farmer," in a Phila- 
delphia paper, which were republished in the differ- 
ent colonies and in England, and rendered him 
deservedly famous ; and Samuel Adams, of Massa- 
chusetts, whose able pen was never at rest during 
the whole revolutionary period. 

The ground on which Mr. Henry had pluited 
himself, that parliamentary taxation of the unrepre- 
sented Colonies was unconstitutional, and should be 
resisted, became the avowed doctrine of America. 
Henceforth there was no disagreement on the fun- 
damental question among leaders ; they differed 
only as to methods. 

Having become thoroughly infoi*med as to their 
rights, the Colonies were not to be deceived by the 
jugglery of the Duty Act. Although purporting to 
be a regulation of commerce, and not an internal 
tax, it was plainly intended to raise a revenue, and 
this was taxation. It was not the manner of taxa- 
tion, but the right of taxation, that the Colonies 
contested, and they were as determined to resist 
this last, as they had been the first effort to im- 
pose it. The spirit aroused by the Virginia reso- 
lutions in 1765 still existed, and there was no hesi- 
tation now in giving expression to their determina- 

The Assembly of Massachusetts met December 
30, 1767, and its deliberations were guided by the 
clear intellect and firm purpose of Samuel Adams, 


one among America's greatest men. He drew ap 
for the Assembly a letter to their Agent, an address 
to the Ministry, and a petition to the King, clearly 
and ably presenting the rights of the Colonies and 
the oppression of the late Acts of Parliament, and 
a^ing for their repeal He then drafted a circolar 
letter to be sent to the other colonies, embodying 
the points presented in these papers, asking co- 
operation in the effort to obtun a repeal of the 
obnoziooB Acts, and inviting them to point oat 
anything farther which might be thought neces- 

The Vii^nia Assembly had been prorogued from 
time to time since its session of November, 1766, 
till March 31, 1768, wheu it was called together to 
de^Tse measures for the prevention of tlireatened 
troubles with the Indiana. Governor Fauquier had 
died before the meeting, and John Blair, president 
of the Council, was temporarily performing the ex- 
ecutive duties. Petitions were presented from the 
Counties of Amelia, Chesterfield, Dinwiddle, Hen*- 
rico, Prince WUliam, and Westmoreland, pointing 
out the tendencies, fatal to the liberties of a free peo- 
ple, of the late Acts of Parliament ; and the circular 
letter of Massachnsetts was also laid before the body. 
A petition to the King, a memorial to the House of 
Lords, and a remonstrance to the House of Com- 
mons, penned in a still bolder style than those from 
Massachusetts, were unanimously adopted, after 
careful consideration. They then replied to the 
Assembly of Massachusetts, applauding them for 
their attention to American liberty, and directed 
the speaker to communicate their pi-oceedings to all 
the colonial Assemblies, and to urge the necessity 


of a united, fiiin, but decent opposition to every 
measure affecting their rights.^ 

This action shows how thoroughly the spirit of 
resistance now pervaded the colony. Mr. Jeffer- 
aon, looking back in after years, did not hesitate 
to attribute the unanimity in Virginia during the 
struggle on which she was now entered, to Mr. 
Henry, saying : * "It was to him that we were in- 
debted for the unanimity that prevailed among us." 
As a leader of men in such a moment. Nature could 
hardly have formed a more admirable character. 
He had a wonderful knowledge of men, and an irre- 
sistible power over their passions. His foresight 
but seldom failed him, and men learned to regard 
him as almost inspired. His passion for liberty 
was a fierce flame, which not only filled his own 
bosom, but was communicated to the bodies in which 
he sat He had the courage of his convictions, yet he 
was considerate of the opinions of others, and with 
great tact led, rather than drove, the actors in the 
Revolution. He was the idol of the people, and 
this added to his influence in the Assembly, and 
made it overwhelming. 

The circular letter of Massachusetts was sent to 
the Ministry by Governor Bernard, with a statement 
that it was designed to pave the way for a confed- 
eracy, and calculated to inflame the continent. 
Lord Hillsborough laid it before a Cabinet meet- 
ing, April 15, and by them it was considered little 
better than an incentive to rebellion. The King 
was greatly offended by what he was pleased to 
consider a rebellious spirit, and it was determined, 

1 Joonud of House. 

* Intenriew with DaDiel Webster. CnrtiB^s Webster. 


r^ardless of law, that two royal orders should be 
issued, one requiring the Assembly of Massachusetts 
to rescind their circular letter, and the other requir- 
ing the other Assemblies to treat it with contempt 
Both orders were under pain of dissolution. 

The Assembly of Massachusetts met in June, I7689 
to find British ships in Boston harbor and a Brit- 
ish r^ment in* the town, sent at the instance of 
Oovemor Bernard to overawe the people, whom he 
represented as in a riotous condition. The Assem^ 
bly, however, was not intimidated, but by the de- 
cisive vote of ninety-two to seventeen refused to 
rescind its letter. In obedience to his orders, the 
Governor at once dissolved it. 

The Aisemblies of the other colonies, which met 
afterward, declined to treat the circular letters of 
Massachusetts and Virginia with contempt, but ex- 
pressed their sympathy with them. 

In this condition of affairs, Parliament met in 
November, 1768, and being detei*mined to make an 
example of Massachusetts, an addi*ess was carried 
in both houses, asking the King to cause the princi- 
pal actors in that province to be brought to Eng- 
land, and tried before a special commission, pursuant 
to an Act of 35th of Henry the Eighth, for trying 
persons for treasons committed beyond the borders 
of the kingdom. This act of one of the most ty- 
rannical reigns had been passed before England had 
a colony, and had been long obsolete. The threat- 
ened enforcement of it now against the colonists, 
was an alarming advance in the course of senseless 
tyranny pursued toward them. 

Having singled out Massachusetts for punishment, 
the Ministry attempted to separate the other colo- 


nies from her by promises to repeal part of the Duty 
Act, and by such measures as it was believed would 
at least keep them quiet 

Norboi'ne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, was ap- 
pointed Governor of Vii'ginia, and reached the Col- 
ony in November, 1768. He was an amiable and 
attractive man, and was selected with a view of 
winning the Colony from the American cause. Soon 
after his arrival, he made himself very popular by 
concurring with the Council in refusing to issue 
writs of assistance for the enforcement of the Rev- 
enue Act A new Assembly was called by him to 
meet May 11, 1769. In his speech, he assured them 
of his Majesty's high regard for the Colony, which 
would be displayed in the future by the requirement 
that the Governor should reside within it, and not 
govern by a deputy, as had been so long the custom. 
He promised also to exert himself, at the risk of his 
life and fortune, to extend the jurisdiction of the 
Colony to the Tennessee River, on parallel 86^°. 
He let it be known that he wished the Assembly to 
pass no resolutions sustaining the cause of Massa- 
chusetts, and he persuaded himself, and so wrote to 
England, that the Assembly would come together in 
a good humor with the Ministiy, which he would 
not wantonly disturb. He had not yet learned 
the temper of the Virginians. 

The new Assembly was largely composed of men 
already eminent as patriots, and the advanced party 
was strengthened by the addition of Thomas Jeffer- 
son, for the first time a member of the body. Mr. 
Henry appeared as a delegate from Hanover, in 
which county he had again taken up his residence, 
and whose representative he continued to be so long 


as ihe House of BnrgesBes continued in existeaee. 
His Tsloe as ai working member was attested by 
bis appointment on the conunitteee of privileges aut 
elections, of propositions and grievances, and for re- 
ligion. Upon these and upon other standing com- 
mittees he r^^nlarly served thweafter, and was al- 
ways chairman of one of them whenever he was 
preset At their appointment 

The House was not long detained from the con- 
sideration of the late . proceedings in England, 
and the important question was at once present- 
ed, whether Virginia shoold make common cause 
with Massachusetts, . or should wait for a direct 
attack upon hei-self before taking further action. 
It was a critical moment Had Massachusetts 
been deserted, even the steady hand of Samuel Ad- 
ams might not have been able to keep her in her 
course, for a desertion by Virginia would have 
caused most certainly a desertion by the other col- 
onies, which looked for the action of Virginia with 
the greatest anxiety. In fact the desertion of Mas- 
sachusetts now would have stranded the bark of 
the Kevolution. John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, 
in a letter to R. H. 1*6, January 16, 1769, indicated 
the controlling position held by Virginia among the 
coloniea He said: "Virginia, sir, has maintained 
the common cause, with such attention, spirit, and 
temper as has gained her the highest degree of rep- 
utation among the other colonies. It is as much 
in her power to dishearten them, as to encourage 
them." ' 

After the Assembly had replied to the Governor's 
speech, the joint address of the Loi-ds and Com- 

■Life of B.H.Lm,L,«». 



mons to the King came to hand.* Had there been 
any hesitation before, it was now dispelled. The di- 
rect attack upon the rights of person and jury trial 
was more alai*ming than the foimer attacks upon 
rights of property, and the House of Burgesses did 
not hesitate for a moment as to their duty. 

On May 16, the Committee of the Whole report- 
ed the following resolutions, which were at once 
adopted : 

^^ Hesolvedj nemine contradicentey That the sole 
right of imposing taxes on the inhabitants of this 
his Majesty's colony and dominion of Virginia, is 
now, and ever has been, legally and constitutionally 
vested in the House of Burgesses, lawfully con- 
vened, according to the ancient and established 
practice, with the consent of the Council, and of his 
Majesty the King of Britain, or his Governor for 
the time being. 

^^ jResolvedy nenmie contradicentey That it is the 
undoubted privilege of the inhabitants of this col- 
ony, to petition their sovereign for redress of griev- 
ances, and that it is lawful and expedient to pro- 
cure the concurrence of his Majesty's other colonies, 
in dutiful addresses, praying the royal interposition 
in favor of the violated rights of America. 

" JResolved, 7iemine conpf^adicente^ That all trials 
for treason, misprision of treason, or for any felony 
or crime whatsoever, committed or done in this his 
Majesty's said colony and dominion, by any person 
or persons residing tnerein, ought of right to be had 
and conducted in and before his Majesty's coui-ta 
held within his said colony, according to the fixed 
and known course of proceeding ; and that the 
seizing of any person or persons residing in this col- 

< Letter of B. C. Nicholas to Arthur Lee, dated May 81, 17G9, in 
'* Soathexn Literaxy Meesenger '' for July, 1858. 



ony, suspected of any crime whatsoever committed 
therein, and sending such person or persons to places 
beyond the sea to be tried, is highly derogatory of 
the rights of British subjects, as thereby me inesti- 
mable privilege of being tried by a jury fi'om their 
vicinage, as well as the liberty of summoning and 
producing witnesses in such trial, will be taken 
away from the party accused. 

" Jiesolvedy nemine contradicentej That an humble, 
dutiful and loyal address, be presented to his Maj- 
esty, to assure him of our inviolable attachment to 
his sacred person and government, and to beseech 
his royal interposition, as the father of his people, 
however remote from the seat of his empire, to quiet 
the minds of his loyal subjects of this colony, and 
to avert from them those dangers and miseries 
which will ensue, from the seizing and carrying be- 
yond sea any person residing in America suspected 
of any crime whatsoever, to be tried in any other 
manner than by the ancient and long established 
course of proceeding." 

It was also "ordered that the Speaker of this 
House do transmit, without delay, to the Speakers of 
the several Houses of Assembly on this continent, a 
copy of the resolutions now agreed to by this House, 
requesting their concurrence therein," and also, " that 
the resolutions of the Lords, and the address of the 
Lords and Commons to the King, and the resolutions 
of this House reported and agreed to, be printed in 
the Virginia Gazetted 

A committee was appointed, composed of Mr. 
Blair, who had acted as chairman of the Committee 
of the Whole, R. H. Lee, Mr. Henry, Mr. Treasurer 
(R. C. Nicholas), Mr. Thomson Mason and Mr. Ben- 
jamin Harrison, to whom was entrusted the draw- 


ing of the address to the King. On the next day 
they repoi^ted the following : 

" May it please your Majesty. 

" We your Majesty's most loyal, dutiful, and af- 
fectionate subjects, the House of Burgesses of this 
your Majesty's ancient colony of Virginia, now met 
m General Assembly, beg leave in the humblest man- 
ner to assure your Majesty, that your faithful sub- 
jects of this colony, ever distinguished by their loy- 
alty, and firm attachment to your Majesty and your 
royal ancestors, far from countenancing traitors, 
treasons, or misprisions of treason, are ready at any 
time to sacrifice our lives and fortunes in defence 
of your Majesty's sacred person and government. 

" It is with the deepest concern and most heart- 
felt grief, that your Majesty's dutiful subjects of 
this colony find that their loyalty hath been tra- 
duced, and that those measures, which a just' regard 
for the British Constitution (dearer to them than 
life) made necessary duties, have been misrepre- 
sented as rebellious attacks upon your Majesty's 

" When we consider that by the established laws 
and constitution of this colony, the most ample pro- 
vision is made for apprehending and punishing all 
those who shall dare to engage in any treasonable 
practices against your Majesty, or disturb the tran- 
quillity of Government, we cannot, without horror, 
think of the new, unusual, and permit us with all 
humility to add, unconstitutional and illegal mode, 
recommended to your Majesty, of seizing and cany- 
ing beyond sea the inhabitants of America suspect- 
ed of crime ; and trying such persons in any other 
manner than by the ancient and long-established 
courae of proceeding. For, how truly deplorable 
must be the case of a wretched American, who hav- 
ing incurred the displeasure of any one in power, is 


dragged from his native borne, and dearest domes-- 
tick oooneotions, thrown into prison, not to await 
his trial before a court, jury, or judges, from a 
knowledge of whom he is encooraeed to hope for 
speedy jostice ; bat to exchange his miprisonment in 
his own oonntry, for fetters among strangers, con- 
vered to a distance where no friend, no relation, 
wul aUeviate his distresses, or minister to bis neees- 
sitiee, and where no witness can be fonnd to testify 
to his innocence ; shunned by the repntable and hon- 
- est, and consigned to the society and converse of. 
the wretched and the abandoned, he can only pray, 
that he may soon end his misery with his life. 

" Trnly alarmed at the fatal tendency of these 
peniicious coimBelB, and with hearts filled with an- 
guish, by such dangerous invasions of our dearest _ 
privileges, we presume to prostrate ourselves at the 
foot 01 your Royal throne, beseeching your Maies 
ty, as our king and father, to avert from your faith- 
ful and loyal subjects of America those miseries 
which must necessarily be the consequence of such 
measures. After expressing our firm confidence in 
your Royal wisdom and goodness, permit us to as- 
sure your Majesty, that the most fervent prayers of 
your people of this colony are duly addressed to 
the Almighty, that youi" Majesty's reign may be 
long and prosperous over Great Britain, and all your 
dominions, and that, after death, your Majesty may 
taste the fullest fruition of eternal bliss, and that a 
descendant of your illustrious House, may reign over 
the extended British empire until time shall be no 

This address was ordered to be sent to the i^nt 
to be presented to the King, and afterward printed 
in the English papers. 

These proceedings were had with closed doors, for 
fear the Governor might dissolve the body before 



they could complete them. They had scarcely or- 
dered the address to be entered on the journal be- 
fore they were summoned to attend the Governor, 
who said, " Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House 
of Representatives, I have heard of your resolves, 
and augur ill of their effects ; you have made it my 
duty to dissolve you, and you are accordingly dis- 

The proceedings were well deserving of the en- 
comium of Bancroft, who says of them, they " were 
calm in manner, concise, simple, effective ; so per- 
fect in substance and in form that time finds no 
omission to regret, no improvement to suggest." 
Nothing can exceed the dignity and firmness dis- 
played in the resolves and the address, and the King 
must have been blind indeed, not to have recognized 
the fact that the men who adopted them would not 
submit to the loss of their cherished rights. 

It is not known who wrote these papers. That Mr. 
Henry was active in their passage cannot be doubted, 
and the resolves are so full of the vigor and bold- 
ness which characterized his resolutions of May, 1765, 
that it is very probable they were from his pen. 

The action of Virginia greatly encouraged the 
patriots throughout America, and the press teemed 
with her praise. The several colonies through their 
assemblies approved her resolutions, and in some 
cases adopted them verbatim. Thus Virginia led 
the way, and united the colonies in resisting Brit- 
ish encroachment on their rights of person, as she 
had done regarding the encroachment on their rights 
of property. 

Upon the dissolution of the Assembly the mem- 
bers met in the long room of the Raleigh tavern, 


called " The Apollo," and signed an agreement pre- 
sented by Washington, which had been drawn by 
George Mason, not then in pnblio life, pledging them- 
selves to encourage indnstiy and frugality, and not 
to import or to buy any uidcles which were taxed 
by Parliament. Some of the other colonies had al* 
ready entered into similar agreements, and sabse- 
qnently all joined in the movement. ' Homespun 
i^othes became fashionable, and the teat of patriot- 
ism, and British commerce began to suffer from 
British tyranny. 

The Ministry now found themselves beset with 
difficulties. An able minority on the floor of Parlia- 
ment, led by Burke, resisted every step in their 
American policy, and exposed the tyrannical princi- 
ples on which it was based. A party was formed 
among the people which favored the colonies, and 
was strengthened by the non-importation agreements 
which affected the merchants and manufacturers. 
The repeated expulsion of John Wilkea from his 
seat in Parliament, at the requirement of the King, 
brought on a contest with his constituents, the vot- 
ers of Middlesex, which came near lighting the torch 
of civil war under the very shadow of Parliament 
building, and greatly increased the sympathy for 
the colonies. And to crown their miseries, the 
strong arm of the concealed form of Junius was 
discharging those polished shafts, the envy and 
despair of political writers, which transfixed the 
King and his advisers, and held them up as ob- 
jects of contempt to their own and succeeding 

Lord Botetourt, unlike Governor Bernard, wann- 
]y espoused the cause of his colony, and urged the 


Ministry to do justice to a people of whose loyalty 
and patriotism lie was fully satisfied. 

Forced to retrace their steps, the Ministry attempt- 
ed to pacify the colonies without yielding the right 
to tax them. It was determined to repeal the duty 
on every article except tea, and the Governors were 
directed to inform the several Assemblies that the 
repeal would be moved in the next Parliament, 
" upon consideration of such duties having been laid 
contrary to the true principles of commerce." 

The Virginia Assembly was called together on 
November 7, 1769, and Lord Botetourt, in the name 
of the Ministry, gave them this assurance, and that 
no further effort would be made to raise a revenue 
from America. The Council in reply advised the 
repeal of existing parliamentary taxes, and the Bur- 
gesses, expressing their gratitude for his Majesty's 
purpose, trusted that the same wisdom and good- 
ness would still further incline him to an exertion of 
his influence toward perfecting the happiness of all 
his people. They exjpressed their regard for the 
Governor in terms which were highly appreciated 
by him, and the most cordial feelings were estab- 
lished between them. 

The House at once addressed itself to matters of 
importance brought to their attention by the Gov- 
ernor. Several cruel murdei's of friendly Indians 
had been committed on the frontier, and the mur- 
derers, after their arrest, had been rescued and were 
at large. In addition to the important committees 
on which he had been formerly placed, Mr. Henry 
was appointed a member of the Committee on Ind- 
ian Affairs, and their report shows not only the firm- 
est determination to maintain the treaties with the 


Indians, and to vindicate the laws of the colony 
against crime, but a broad view of the relations of 
the Indian tribes to the colony. They reported 
^^ that all treaties with the Indians ought to be made 
by or under the authority of Government only, and 
that for any private person or persons to enter into 
negotiation\dth them, or to invite them into the 
colony for such treaty, is a gi-eat misdemeanor, and 
may be attended with the most dangerous conse- 
quences." ^ This ground was subsequently main- 
tained by Virginia against the claims of persons and 
companies seeking to acquire part of the western 
territory, by virtue of treaties with the Indians to 
which the colony was no party. 

Another matter of very great importance was the 
line proposed by the Board of Trade as the western 
boundary with the Indians. This line was to run 
from the point where the extension of the North 
Carolina line would strike the Holston River, to 
the mouth of the great Kanhawa on the Ohio, and 
it would not only have cut off from Virginia some of 
her settlements, and given up to the Indians the vast 
territor}'^ afterward known as Kentucky, and much 
of what is now West Virginia, but would have left 
the western settlements greatly exposed to the at- 
tacks of hostile Indians. 

The committee to which this matter was referred, 
of which Mr. Henry was a member, insisted on an- 
other line, which, beginning at the western termina- 
tion of the North Carolina line, and running due 
west to the Ohio, took in Kentucky. It recom- 
mended that the rights of the Cherokee Indians to 
any part of the territoiy embraced be purchased, 

« Journal, 187-8. 


and the land so taken in be sold to actual settlers 
in reasonable quantities, to the exclusion of monop- 
olies. These were measures intended to encourage 
emigration to the westward, and to thwart the de- 
signs of the large land companies which were 
attempting to get possession of the vast unsettled 
territory of Virginia. 

In his journey to the Holston the year before, 
Mr, Henry had acquired a personal knowledge of 
the western frontier, and become deeply impressed 
with the importance of the western country in 
itself, and in its relations to Virginia. 

At this time it was the policy of Lord Hills- 
borough to divert immigration from it, and to confine 
population to the country near the sea-coast, whose 
trade he deemed more profitable to England, and 
more easily controlled.^ He had even attempted to 
prevent the cession of this territory to the English 
by the Six Nations of Indians at the treaty of Fort 
Stanwix, in November, 1768. But William John- 
son, representing the northern district, and Thomas 
Walker, representing Virginia, had gotten these 
confederate nations, who claimed as conquerors 
from the Shawanese, to cede the territory south of 
the Ohio, as far as the Cherokee or Cumberland 
River.' Virginia claimed the entire territory west 
of her settlements by virtue of her charter, and 
while willing to purchase Indian rights, was not 
willing to abandon her claim. Mr. Henry fully 
appreciated the value of this territory, and of 
the Mississippi River as a highway of commerce, 
and, as will be seen, never ceased his efforts till 

1 Report of Lorda of Trade, Franklin*a Worka, vol. iv., p. 808. 
s Bancroft, vi., 227-S, Worka of Franklin, toI. iv., p. 832. 


<^ Mhrffist^es tif botii vera f(»«iiMd ttt tto tol- 


In Jumttry, l??0,L«<d N<»1;h wM wadefitBt Lt»d 

ing a petidon from tb« mwiAAati of 'Xiondoti tiie vk* 
ense, he moved to repeid the doty on all aitidea ia»> 
prated l^ the oolonies from jBagUnid, aoept tMk 
T1& wat excepted at-tiie iaattooe ot tfae'King, -who 
nudtfted that, '^there must alvsjrs he one tax^^ 
keep up the right." 

The Vii^^i^ Assembly met in May, and wore in- 
f<miied by the GoTemor, on Jnne 30, of this repe^ 
They had hoped that the Ministry would listen to 
the earnest request of Lord Botetourt, and ask for 
the repeal of all obnoxious legislation, and their dis- 
appointment and dissatisfaction were indicated, by 
their ordering the next day that a petition to the 
King be drawn, praying that he would "recom- 
mend to his Parliament a total repeal of certain 
acts lately passed for the purpose of raising a rev- 
enue in America, and for subjecting American prop- 
OTty to the jurisdiction of distant and arbitrary 
courts of admiralty, where trial by jury is not per- 
mitted, and where distance and interest may both 
conspire to rain the innocent" 

Beffldes this address, the members entered into a 
new association, uniting with the merchants, and 
providing for committees in the several counties to 
see that their agreements of non-importation were 
enforced. The use of tea was to be entirely discon- 
tinued, and it was hoped that the firm purpose of 
the colonies not to buy any article taxed by Parlia- 
ment, would finally I'esult in tho repeal of the entire 
Duty Act. 



The difficulties between the citizens of Boston and 
the soldiery, which resulted in the latter firing on 
the people March 6, 1770, killing three and wound- 
ing eight, had caused great excitement throughout 
America. It had resulted in a removal of the troops 
from the town, and the trial of the officer in com- 
mand, Captain Preston, and several of the soldiers, 
by the civil court. The Virginia Assembly, there- 
fore, did not see fit to take note of the occur- 

The Journal of this, as of other Assemblies, abounds 
with evidence of the value of Mr. Henry as a busi- 
ness member. Besides the important committees on 
which he had previously served, he was placed upon 
several special committees, among which may be 
mentioned one to frame a bill for the better admin- 
istration of justice in the county courts, and another 
to examine the treasurer's accounts. Upon this last 
committee he was continued during subsequent ses- 
sions. He was also appointed, along with Bichard 
Bland and Thomas Walker, to meet commissioners 
from the colonies of Quebec, New York, New 
Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, to 
agree on a general plan for the regulation of the 
Indian trade. This conference had been proposed 
by the New York Assembly to be held in the city 
of New York, and was agreed to by Virginia, 
Quebec, and Pennsylvania. Mr. Henry left his 
home in July to attend it, and was accompanied 
by Mr. Bland, but their journey was fniitless, as 
the Government prevented the conference, fearing 
any move which looked like union among the col- 

>HAmilton*8 Hittoxy of the Bepablio, i., 81, and Bancroft, yL, 816. 



InOotcftter, 1T70, liord Botetdmt died, greatly 
iMntttod t^ the Colony, wlioee came he bad ear^ 
nesily advocated with the Btinlstry, and'whoae affe^ 
ti(Hi &e bad won by hn frank iffid numly boaring. 
Hw Assembly in 1769 bad namii a eonnty lb b^ 
bonOT, and after bis death bit statoe was ordered t4> 
be plaeed in the capital of the Golcmy. By hl^ 
defttii the duties of ^e ezecntiTe derolved on Will- 
iam Nelson, Presidoit ci the Connoil, who con- 
vened the Aasembly on 11, Jnly, 1771, to give rdief 
to the flirfferers who, by the nnprecedetitdd freiAet 
in the month of Hay, bad lost tobacco in the pnb^ 
lie warehouses. 

A signal proof was given by this Assembly of the 
advance of dissent, and the growing jealousy of 
ecclesiastical powers, in their unanimous vote of 
thanks to Messrs. Henley, Gwatkin, Hewitt, and 
Bland, ministers of the established church, "for the 
wise and well-timed opposition they have made to 
the pernicious project of a few mistaken clergymen, 
for introducing an American bishop ; a measure by 
which much disturbance, great anxiety, and appre- 
hension would certainly take place among his Ma- 
jesty's faithful American subjects." 

During the year Mr. Henry purchased a valuable 
tract of land in Hanover, called " Scotchtown," 
which be made his home. The place coat him 
£600, and was considered cheap at that price, as 
appears by a letter from Colonel William Christian 
congratulating him on the purchase. He was also 
the owner of lands in Botetourt County, on Junes 
River, which, the same letter informed him, did not 
suffer by the flood. It thus appears that be bad 
not neglected his profession in attending the Aseem- 


bly, and his frequent and judicious purchases of 
real estate after this period show his wise manage- 
ment of his private affairs. 

John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, a Scotch noble- 
man and a peer of the realm, was transferred from 
the government of New York to that of Virginia in 
1771. He had been a pupil of Lord Bute while 
George III. was under his tuition, and was deeply 
imbued with his Tory principles. Edmund Ran- 
dolph says of him:^ ^^To external accomplish- 
ment he pretended not, and his manners and senti- 
ments did not surpass substantial barbarism; a 
barbarism which was not palliated by a paiiicle 
of native genius, nor regulated by an ingredient 
of religion. His propensities were coarse and de- 

The contrast with the courtly and refined Bote- 
tourt excited the disgust of the Virginians, and 
aided greatly in developing the feeling of alienation 
between the colony and the mother country, which 
was daily gaining strength. 

The Governor called a new Assembly, to meet 
February 10, 1772. Nothing touching the relations 
with the home government was determined at its 
session, except the adoption of an address to the 
King strongly protesting against the slave trade, 
not only because of its inhumanity, but because 
of its threatening to endanger the very existence 
of the colonies; and beseeching him ^^to remove 
all those restraints on your Majesty's government 
of this Colony which inhibit their assenting to 
such laws as might check so pernicious a com- 


1 MB. mstoxy of Vixginuu 


The Assembly were justly alarmed at the increase 
of slaves. By a calculation of Mr. Jefferson, in 
his "Notes on Virginia," the proportion of the 
blacks with the whites in the colony in 1782 was 
as ten to eleven, and it could not have been 
very different in 1772, For years the royal as- 
sent had been withheld from enactments impos- 
ing duties on their importation, by which it had 
been sought to check their increase, and the colony 
was filling up rapidly with a barbarous popula- 
tion taken from the wilds of Africa. As slaves 
they retai'ded the prosperity of the country, and 
to give them the rights of citizenship seemed 
certain destruction to every interest held dear by 
the English race. Well might the Assembly de- 
clare that the continuance of the iniquitous trade 
would "endanger the very existence of the col- 

The King, to his shame be it said, unwilling to 
give up his part of the profits of the inhuman traf- 
fic, evaded a reply to this solemn appeal, and con- 
tinued to withhold his consent to its prohibition ; 
while Lord Mansfield, ardently supporting his 
American policy, was announcing from the King^s 
Bench the doctrine that slavery could not exist in 
England, and releasing a Virginia negro brought 
there by his master.^ 

Mr. Henry's views oi;i this important subject have 
been already indicated, but it is fortunate that a dis- 
tinct statement of them has been preserved in a let- 
ter to a correspondent, who had sent him the book 
of Anthony Benezet on slavery. This letter is 
found in the *' Life of Benezet," by Eobert Vaux, 

1 Somerset ts. Stewart, Lofft Reports, Easter Term, 1773. 


and is the earliest of Mr. Henry's letters now 
known to exist It is as follows : 

^'Hanoyxb, Jmmaiy 18, 1778. 

^^ DsAB Sib : I take this opportunity to acknowl- 
edge the receipt of Anthony ^enezet's book against 
the slave trade. I thank you for it It is not a 
little surprising that the professors of Christianity, 
whose chief excellence consists in softening the hu- 
man heart, and in cherishing and improving its finer 
feelings, should encourage a practice so totally re- 
pugnant to the first impressions of rig:ht and wrong. 
What adds to the wonder is that this abominable 
practice has been introduced in the most enlightened 
ages. Times, that seem to have pretensions to boast 
ox high improvements in the arts and sciences, and 
refined morality, have brought into general use, and 
guarded by many laws, a species of violence and 
tyranny, which our more rude and barbarous, but 
more honest ancestors detested. Is it not amazing, 
that at a time, when the rights of humanity are de- 
fined and understood with precision, in a country, 
above all others, fond of liberty, that in such an 
age and in such a country, we find men professing a 
religion the most humane, mild, gentle and generous, 
adopting a principle as repugnant to humanity, as it 
is inconsistent with the bible, and destructive to 
liberty ? Every thinking, honest man rejects it in 
speculation, how few in practice from conscientious 
motives ! 

" Would anyone believe I am the master of slaves 
of my own purchase I I am drawn along by the 

feneral inconvenience of living here without them, 
will not, I cannot justify it However culpable 
my conduct, I will so far pay my devoir to virtue, 
as to own the excellence and rectitude of her pre- 
cepts, and lament my want of conformity to them. 
" I believe a time will come when an opportunity 


will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. 
Everything we can do is to improve it, if it hap- 
pens in our day ; if not, let us transmit to our de- 
scendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their 
unhappy lot, and an abhon-ence of slavery. If we 
cannot reduce this wished-for reformation to prac- 
tice, let US treat the unhappy victims with lenity. 
It is the furthest advance we can make toward 
justice. It is a debt we owe to the purity of our 
religion, to show that it is at variance with that 
law which warrants slavery. 

" I know not when to stop. I could say many 
things on the subject, a serious view of which 
gives a gloomy perspective to future times." 

The " gloomy perspective " which filled his mind 
was made a terrible reality before a century had 
passed, when tbe bonds of slavery were sundei'ed 
by the consuming flame of the most gigantic civil 
war of which history has made record, leaving the ' 
unsolved problem of negro citizenship to clog AJner- 
ican progress, and to endanger American institu* 



Attempt to Gorem by Royal loBtniotions.— Act for Securing Dock- 
yards, Ships, and Stores. — Affiur of the Gtaspee. — ^Inquiry into 
it by a Commission with Secret Orders. — ^Death of Oolonel John 
Henry. — ^New Assembly. — Rebuke to the Governor for Disregard 
of the Criminal Laws. — Law Against Counterfeiting. — ^Acts for 
Internal Improvement. — Committees of Correspondence Ad- 
vised, and One Appointed for Virginia.— Incidents Relating to 
the Resolutions, and Mr. Henry's Part in Them. — Judge Tuck- 
er*s Account of Mr. Henry in this Assembly. — Hearty Response 
of the Other Colonies to the Proposal of Virginia, as Tending 
to Union. — ^What was the Honor Due to Virginia in this Re- 
gard? — Effect upon the Ministry. — ^Adjournment of the Rhode 
Island Commission. — Embarrassment of the East India Com- 
pany.— Act for Their Relief. — ^Duty.on Tea Shipped to America 
Arouses Opposition. — The Consignees in Three Ports Forced 
to Resign. — At Boston the Tea Thrown Overboard by Dis- 
ipuised Men.— Rage of the Ministry. — Bill to Close the Port of 

As Parliament was not active in enforcing their 
claim to tax, and the colonies had met the existing 
Duty Act by refusing to buy the taxed articles, the 
question of taxation ceased to be agitated as former- 
ly, and the kindly relations between England and 
America would probably have been renewed, had 
not the administration kept up a series of most irri- 
tating measures. The Assembly of Massachusetts 
were not allowed to meet in Boston, but were con- 
vened at Cambridge. Every colonial Assembly 
which did not obey the requirements of the admin- 
istration, however unusual or oppressive they might 


be, waa at onoe dissolved. Arbitnuy and diahoneat 
men were |daoed in power in the coloniea, and app- 
ported oat txf the treaaory at home, so as to be .eii'-> 
tirelj independent of those they governed, ^li^ 
extortion in North Carolina caused some of the beak. 
people to band ti^ether to resist it, and brought oa 
the war of tiie B^ulators. In Georgia the Speaker 
elected was rejeoted by the Qovemor. Everywhere 
Boyal Instnictions were pnt above law and the an- 
cient enatoma of colonial government. And this 
was done in violation of the British Constitution as 
ccHUttmed by the Court of King's Bench, presided 
over by Lord Mansfield, which held, in the case of 
Campbell vs. Hall,* that where there was a colonial 
Assembly allowed, the King's prerogative did not 
extend to the making or altering of laws. 

In April, 1772, an act was passed for the better 
securing of dockyards, ships and stores, which ex- 
tended to the colonies, and made death the penalty 
for destroying any article, even the moat trifling,, 
which belonged to the fleet, and subjected the ac^ 
cused to a trial in any county in England. The Brit- 
ish ship Gaspee, stationed in the harbor of Provi- 
dence, Rhode Island, and commanded by Lieutenant 
Dudingston, had greatly obstructed commerce by the 
conduct of its commander, in stopping and search- 
ing in an unlawful manner vessels using the har- 
bor, and seizing their cargoes. On June 9, 1772, it 
chased the Providence packet coming into port, and, 
following it too far, ran aground. The following 
night a party of disguised men in boats boarded 
the stranded vessel, and after a scuffle, in which the 
commander was wounded, captured and landed th^ 

■ B«port«d In OowpsT** Bapoite, S04. , 


crew, and fired the schooner. The a£Eair was con- 
ducted on a sudden impulse, by men exasperated by 
continuous insolence and oppression, but it called 
forth the harshest measures at the hands of the 
Ministry. It was pronounced by Thurlow and 
Wedderbum to be a crime of deeper dye than 
piracy, and steps were taken for the discovery and 
apprehension of the persons engaged in it, in order 
that they might be carried to England for ^^ condign 
punishment." In January, 1773, a conmiission, 
composed of Admiral Montague, the vice-admiralty 
judge at Boston, the Chief Justices of Massachusetts, 
New York, and New Jersey, and the Governor of 
Rhode Island, met at Newport to make inquest as 
to the matter, with orders to cause the o:fiEenders to 
be arrested and sent to England for trial. The 
commission, baffled in their inquiries, continued their 
session for months. The fact of their appointment 
was looked upon as a direct attack upon the right 
of trial by jury, and caused widespread alarm, 
which was greatly increased by the difficulty ex- 
perienced in ascertaining what were the precise 
orders under which they acted. 

In the midst o^ this excitement Mr. Henry was 
caJled to the death-bed of his honored father, who 
died in February, 1773, having been spared to see 
a large family comfortably settled in life, and his 
youngest son the leading man in the colony. Upon 
that son he had leaned for support in his declining 
years, and he had found that the cai*es of public life 
had not lessened his filial affection. 

Lord Dunmore was loath to convene the Assem- 
bly. He prorogued them from time to time after 
the session of February, 1772, till March 4, 1773. 


He was forced to call them together at that time to 
prevent a commercial panic, arising from the discov- 
ery of extensive forgeries of the treasury notes in 
circulation. Before the House met he had caused 
certain suspected citizens of Pittsylvania County to 
be arrested and tried, without being brought before 
an examining court, as required by law. At the 
opening of the session he sent them the information, 
received on oath, implicating Paschal Greenhill, a 
member of the House, in passing counterfeit notes, 
that they might take the necessary steps to punish 
him. The action of the house in reference to both 
of these matters was evidently the work of Mr. 
Henry, as he was made chairman of the committees 
appointed to wait on the Governor with their reso- 
lutions. As regards the accused member, it was — 

" Resolved^ That an humble address be presented 
to his Excellency the Governor, returning him the 
sincere thanks of this House for the information re- 
specting Mr. Paschal Greenhill, which the House 
esteems an instance of his Lordship's tenderness 
and affection for the priviletjes of the members of 
this House ; to assure him, that the House is filled 
with a just detestation of an offence so dangerous 
in its consequences ; and to entreat that his Lord- 
ship will be pleased to direct that every legal step 
be forthwith taken for securing the said Mr. Green- 
hill, that he may be brought to justice, and all 
others accused upon good grounds of the like of- 
fence ; and engaging that this House will most 
cheerfully pay any reasonable reward' his Excellency 
may think fit to offer for apprehending such offend- 
ers ; to be paid upon their conviction.' 


At the same time the Governor was required to 
lay before the House the proceedings in the arrest 
and trial of the accused citizens of Pittsylvania. 
Upon examining these irregular proceedings, the 
House voted the following address : 

" My Lord : We, his Majesty's dutiful subjects, 
beg leave to present your Excellency our sincere 
thanks for your attention to the interests of this 
colony, by vigorously endeavoring to bring the for- 
gers of our paper cuiTency to justice, but the pro- 
ceedings in this case, my Lord, though rendered 
necessary by the particular nature of it, are never- 
theless aifferent from the usual mode, it being regu- 
lar that an examining court on criminals should ne 
held, either in the county where the act was com- 
mitted, or the arrest made. The duty we owe our 
constituents obliges us, my Lord, to be as attentive 
to the safety of the innocent, as we are desirous 
of punishing the guilty; and we apprehend that 
a aoubtful construction and various execution of 
criminal law, does greatly endanger the safety of in- 
nocent men. We do therefore most humbly pray 
your Excellency, that the proceedings in this case 
may not in future be drawn into consequence or 

The House thus, while duly appreciating the 
respect shown their own privileges, did not fail to 
see and protest against the arbitrary action of the 
Governor, in causing citizens to be tried before they 
had passed thix)ugh the preliminary examination ac- 
corded to every one charged with felony. 

Before presenting this address the House com- 
pleted their legislation for the calling in of the coun- 
terfeited notes, and the punishment of those engaged 


in forging or circulating the treasury notes of Vir- 
ginia, or of any other colony. They took care also 
to transact all other business they deemed impor- 
tant^ On March 12, they Qame to the following 
important resolves : 

^^WhereaSj The minds of his Majesty's faithful 
subjects in this colony have been much disturbed, 
by various rumors and rei)prts of proceedings tend' 
ing to deprive them of their ancient, legal, and con- 
stitutional right, 

" And wfiereaSj The affairs of this colony are fi^e- 
quently connected with those of Great Britain, as 
well as of the neighboring colonies, which renders a 
communication oi sentiments necessary; in order, 
therefore, to remove the uneasinesses, and to quiet 
the minds of the people, as well as for the other 
good purposes above mentioned, 

^^jBe it resolvedj That a standing committee of 
correspondence and inquiry be appomted, to consist 
of eleven persons to wit: the Honorable Peyton 
Randolph, Esquire, Robert Carter Nicholas, Rich- 
ard Bland, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, 
Edmund Pendleton, Patrick Henry, Dudley Digges, 
Dabney Carr, Archibald Gary and Thomas Jeffer- 
son, Esquires, any six of whom to be a committee, 
whose business it shall be to obtain the most early 
and authentic intelligence of all such acts and reso- 
lutions of the British Parliament, or proceedings of 
Administration, as may relate to or affect the Brit- 
ish colonies in America, and to keep up and main- 
tain a correspondence and communication with our 

' Among their laws were the following acts for internal improvements : 
'* For improTing the navigation of the Potomac River ; for making a road 
from the Warm Springs to tTennings Gap ; for clearing the Matapony; for 
circam venting the falls of James River by a canal from Westham ; and 
for catting a canal across from Archer's Hope Creek to Queen's Creek, 
ihroogh Williamsbarg, to connect the James and York Rivers.** 


sister colonies, respecting these important considera- 
tions ; and the result of such their proceedings, from 
time to time, to lay before this House. 

" Resolved^ That it be an instruction to the said 
committee, that they do, without delay, inform them- 
selves particularly of the principles and authority on 
which was constituted a court of inquiry, said to 
have been lately held in Rhode Island, with powers 
to transmit persons accused of o:Sences committed 
in America to places beyond the seas to be tried." 

^^ The said resolutions being severally read a sec- 
ond time, were, upon the question severally put 
thereupon, agreed to by the house, nendne oontradi- 

" Resolved^ That the speaker of this house do trans- 
piit to the speakers of the different Assemblies of 
the British colonies on the continent, copies of the 
said resolutions, and desire that they will lay them 
before their respective Assemblies, and request them 
to appoint some person or persons of their respec- 
tive bodies, to communicate from time to time with 
the said committee." 

As these resolutions wei'e designed to unite all the 
colonial Assemblies in their counsels, and to insure 
united action in every step of the controversy with 
Great Britain, and in fact led to the Continental 
Congress, and American Union, every incident con- 
nected with their passage is of the greatest interest 

Mr. Jefferaon in his memoir, after saying that the 
court of inquiry held in Rhode Island was consid- 
ered as demanding attention by the Assembly, adds : 

" Not thinking our old and leading members up 
to the point of forwardness and zeal which the times 
required, Mr. Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Francis 
L. Xee, Mr. Carr and myself agreed to meet in the 


evening, in a private room of the Raleigh, to con- 
suit on the state of things. There may have been a 
member or two more whom I do not recollect We 
were all sensible that the most urgent of all meas* 
ures was that of coming to an understanding with 
all the other colonies, to consider the British claims 
as a common cause to all, and to produce a unity of: 
action ; and for this purpose that a committee of 
correspondence in each colony would be the best 
instrument for intercommunication ; and that their 
first measure would probably be, to propose a meet- 
ing of deputies from every colonv, at some central 
place, who should be charged with the direction of 
the measures which should be taken by all. We 
therefore drew up the resolutions which may be seen 
in Wirt, page 87. The consulting members pro- 
posed to me to move them, but 1 urged that it 
should be done by Mr. Carr, my friend and brother- 
in-law, then a new member, to whom I wished an 
opportunity should be given of making known to 
the house his great worth and talents. It was so 
agreed' ; he moved them ; they were agreed to Tiem. 
€on.j and a committee of correspondence appointed, 
of whom Peyton Randolph, the speaker, was chair- 

Mr. Carr was a member from the county of Lou- 
isa. By this single act he indelibly impressed his 
name on the page of his country's history. Mr. Jef- 
ferson wrote Mr. Wirt concerning him : 

" I well remember the pleasure expressed in the 
countenance and conversation of the members gen- 
erally, on this dSbut of Mr. Carr, and the hopes they 
conceived, as well from the talents as the patriotism 
it manifested. But he died within two months 

after, and in him we lost a powerful fellow-laborer. 



His character was of a high order : a spotless in- 
tegritVy sound judgment, handsome imagination, en- 
riched by education and reading, quick and clear in 
his conceptions, of correct and ready elocution, im- 
pressing every hearer with the sincerity of the heai-t 
from which It flowed. His firmness was inflexible 
in what he thought right, but when no moral prin- 
ciple was in the way, never had man more of the 
milk of human kindness, of indulgence, of softness, 
of pleasantry in conversation and conduct." 

As early as July 25, 1768, Richard Henry Lee, in 
a letter to John Dickinson,^ had suggested the ap- 
pointment of such committees by all the colonies 
to effect an union of counsel and action, and as he 
and Mr. Henry were in thorough accord in their 
views, it can hardly be doubted that they had wait- 
ed to make the move in the Assembly till they saw 
the country ready to adopt the suggestion. The 
court of inquiry sitting in Rhode Island with secret 
instructions roused the continent, and enabled these 
patriots successfully to accomplish the first decided 
movement toward a perpetual union. 

Mr. Lee, in a letter to Mr. Dickinson of April 4, 
1773,' refers to the supposed objects of this court 
of inquiry, and adds : 

" When our Assembly met lately they were not 
furnished with proper documents on this subject. 
But they have now adopted a measure, which from 
the beginning they should have fixed on, as leadini 
to that union and perfect understanding with eacl 
other, on which the political salvation of America 
depends. I have enclosed you that part of our jour- 
nal which relates to that matter. You will observe, 

1 life of a. H. Lee, vol i, p. 85. * Idem, 90, 


sir, that full scope is given to a large and thorough 
union of councils, though our language is so con- 
trived as to prevent the enemies of America from 
bringing this transaction into the vortex of treason, 
whitiier they have carried every honest attempt to 
defend oui'selves from their tyrannous designs to 
destroy our constitutional liberty. I hope sincerely 
that every colony on the continent will adopt these 
committees of correspondence and enquiry." 

An interesting account of this Assembly, and of 
the appearance of Mr. Henry and Mr. Lee has been 
preserved by Judge St George Tucker, who was a 
student at the college in 1773. He wi*ote to Mr. 

" When I first saw Mr. Henry, which was in 
March, 1773, he wore a peach blossom colored coat, 
and a dark wig, which tied behind, and I believe a 
bag to it, as was the fashion of the day. When 

{)ointed out to me as the orator of the Assembly I 
ooked at him with no great prepossession. On the 
opposite side of the house sat the graceful Pendle- 
ton, and the harmonious Richard ELenry Lee, whose 
aquiline nose and Roman profile struck me much 
more forcibly than that of Mr. Henry, his rival in 
eloquence. The distance from the gallery to the 
chair, near which these distinguished members sat, 
did not permit me to have such a view of their feat- 
ures and countenances as to leave a strong impres- 
sion, except of Mr. Lee's, whose profile was too re- 
markable not to be noticed at an even greater dis- 
tance. I was then between nineteen and twenty, 
had never heard a speech in public, except from the 
pulpit — had attached to the idea I had formed of 
an orator all the advantages of person which Mr. 
Pendleton possessed, and even more — all the advan- 


tages of voice, which delighted me so much in the 
speeches of Mr. Lee — ^the fine polish of language 
which that gentleman united with that harmonious 
voice, so as to make me sometimes fancy that I was 
listening to some bein^ inspired with more than 
mortal powers of embellishment — and all the advan- 
tages of gesture which the celebrated Demosthenes 
considered as the first, second, and third qualifica- 
tions of an orator. I discovered neither of these 
qualifications in the appearance of Mr. Henry, or in 
the few remarks I heard him deliver during the ses- 
sion. It was at this time that Mr. Dabney Can* 
made a motion for appointing a standing committee 
of correspondence with the other colonies. I was 
not present when Mr. Henry spoke on this ques- 
tion ; but was told by some of my fellow-collegians 
that he far exceeded Mr. Lee, whose speech suc- 
ceeded the next day. Never before had I heard what 
I thought oratory ; and if his speech was excelled by 
Mr. Henry's, the latter must have been excellent 
indeed This was the only subject, that I recollect, 
which called forth the talents of the members dur- 
ing that session, and there was too much unanimity 

to have elicited all the strength of any one of them." 

It was about this time, and doubtless on this oc- 
casion, that the following incident occurred, which 
was related to Judge Koane, as he infonned Mr. 
Wirt, by Major Scott. Judge Roane says : ^ " Mr. 
Henry was declaiming against the British King and 
Ministry, and such was the effect of his eloquence 
that all at once the spectators in the gallery rushed 
out It was at first supposed that the house was 
on fire. Not so. But some of the most promi^ 
nent of these spectators ran up into the cupola 

1 MS. Lettez: 


and dowsed the royal flag which was there sus- 
pended ! " 

On March 1 5, the address, disapproving the con- 
duct of the Governor as to the irregular trial of the 
Pittsylvania prisoners, was presented to him by the 
whole house, and elicited a rude answer, and a pro- 
rogation of the body after a session of only eleven 

The Committee of Correspondence met the next 
day, and prepared a circular to the speakers of the 
other colonies, enclosing to each a copy of the reso- 
lutions inviting correspondence, and directed their 
chairman to forward them by expresses. 

The proposal was received by the several Assem- 
blies as a happy suggestion, and similar committees 
were appointed by them as they had opportunity, 
and often in the language employed by Virginia.^ 
Some of the replies were very complimentary to the 
patriotic course pursued by Virginia during the 
entire controversy. The Connecticut committee 
wrote August 10, 1773. "The House of Represent- 
atives of this colony have fully adopted the meas- 
ure proposed by your patriotic House of Burgesses, 
and with pleasure follow the lead given, and example 
set, by the fathers of the people in the ancient, free, 
and loyal colony of Virginia." 

The Massachusetts Assembly on May 27, 1773, 
among their resolutions in reply, said : " That this 
house have a very grateful sense of the obligations 
they are under to the House of Burgesses in Vir- 
ginia, for the vigilance, fii-mness and wisdom, which 
they have discovered at all times in support of the 

' The oorrespondenoe of the committees is to be found in Calendar of 
Virginia State Papers, yoL yiii. 


rights and liberties of the American colonies, and 
do heartily concur with them in theii* said judicious 
and spirited resolves." 

The Assembly of Delaware, on October 23, 1773, 
used similar language. 

The Assembly of North Carolina, on December 8, 

1773, resolved: "That the vigilance which the hon- 
orable House of Burgesses of Virginia have dis- 
played in attending to every encroachment upon the 
rights and liberties of America, and the wisdom 
and vigor with which they have always opposed 
such enc^oachmen^ are worthy the imitation, and 
merit the gratitude, of all their sister colonies, and 
in no instance more particularly than in the meas- 
ure proposed for appointing corresponding com- 
mittees in every colony, by which such harmony 
and communication will be established among them, 
that they will at all times be ready to exert their 
united efforts, and most strenuous endeavors, to 
preserve the just rights and liberties of the Ameri- 
can colonies, which appear of late to be so system- 
atically invaded." 

The Speaker of the New York Assembly, who was 
the first to reply, wrote April 24, 1773 : " We have 
no committee of correspondence of the same kind 
with yours appointed, but as soon as our Assembly 
meets shall lay your letter before them." The As- 
sembly of that colony did not act till January 20, 

1774, when they appointed a committee and directed 
their Speaker in transmitting their action, to " re- 
turn the thanks of this house to the Burgesses of 
Virginia for their early attention to the liberties 
of America." 

The replies of the several Assemblies demonstrate 


the fact, that Virginia is entitled to the honor of 
miccessfully inangnrating these oommittoes as a 
means of effecting the union of the colonies. It is 
not claimed for her that she first suggested commit- 
tees to conduct political correspondence. They had 
been used as far back as the contests between Par^ 
liament and the Stuarts,^ and had been for many 
years the instruments of communication with the 
colonial agents in London. Massachusetts, under 
the lead of Samuel Adams in 1772, had been united 
in political action by committees of correspondence 
appointed by the several towns, and her Assembly 
u^er the same great leader, had in 1770, and 1771| 
appointed committees to communicate for the time 
with the Speakers of the other coloniea Nor was 
the idea of a union of the colonies original with 
Virginia. It had been urged by Franklin, as we 
have seen, as far back as 1754, before their liberties 
had been endangered by British aggressions, and 
had been constantly suggested since the passage of 
the Stamp Act, in the public prints and otherwise. 

The honor due to Virginia, and fully accorded her 
at the time, was, that she brought about the long- 
desired union by proposing permanent committees 
of correspondence between the several colonial As- 
semblies. Samuel Adams wrote R H. Lee, April 
10, 1773 : "The reception of the truly patriotic re- 
solves of the House of Burgesses of Virginia glad- 
dens the hearts of all who are friends to liberty. 
. . . I hope you will have the hearty concurrence 
of every assembly on the continent It is a measure 
which will be attended with great and good conse- 
quences." A writer in the New Hampshire Oazette, 

1 Adolphufi's HUtozy of England, ii, 24. 


June 18, 1773, said of the plan: "Heaven itself 
seemed to have dictated it to the noble Virginians. 
O AmericanB, embrace this plan of oition as yonr 
lif& It will wcn-k oat your political salvation." 
The ccnnnuttee of Gonnecticiit wrote, March 8, 
1774 : " We conffldw with pleasore the steps taken 
by year worthy House of Burgesses, in appointing 
a conunittee to keep up a regnlar correspondence 
with your sister colonies, now aidopted by nearly all 
on the continent, as a basis on which the most last- 
ing and beneficial union may be formed and sap< 

The importance of the measure as adopted by the 
colonies was recognized at once by the English Got* 
enunent, and William Lee wrote from London, Jan- 
uary 1, 1774, that it "struck a greater panic into 
the Ministers than anything that had taken place 
since the passage of the Stamp Act." ^ 

It is interesting to note, that in transmitting these 
resolutions the Virginia Committee also inclosed the 
Act against forging and circulating counterfeit 
money, and asked that a similar act be passed by 
the other colonies for their mutual protection, thna 
inviting the first act of united legi^ation. Favoi** 
able action was taken in response to this proposal, 
and the Connecticnt Committee suggested a uni- 
formity of laws as to their currency, and other 
general concerns, as a measure which would have 
a happy tendency toward forming and strengthen- 
ing a union of the colonies. 

The Rhode Island Commission, which caused so 
much uneasiness, became themselves uneasy on dis- 
covering the spirit aroused among the people. 

■ CamptMlTa HlMorr of Tiigini*, 070. 


They ftdjourned in June, 1773, without having or- 
dered any an-ests, after adopting an elaborate re- 
port, which conceded the illegal conduct of the 
commander of the Gaapee in his indiscriminate de- 
tention of vessels. 

Thus ended the effort to rule the colonies by 
Royal Instructions, an ill-advised system, which, 
nsteadofintimi^fttiiigj cbots-ABBSViofti&to-'a'cdoMt 
iiaion-uid A «toiiteri«Bi8taiiee. ■■■ ■ ■ >i 

^ ^ iiur meittvhile kiiptMrtMt avmtH jiad ta^i 
fktee IB iSkglandd' 1%« refoMd of th««eloiiieB ttt 
^mJ tea exported from En^md had, wltii otber 
oaoses, greatly embarrassed the East India Com- 
pany, which had accumulated 17,000,000 pounds of 
tea in their warehonses for which they had no mar- 
ket Their embarrassment seriously affected the 
business of the kingdom, and threatened a financial 
panic In this state of affairs, the company ap- 
plied to Parliament on March 2, 1773, for a loan of 
£1,500,000. On April 27, Lord North proposed, 
for the relief of the company, that they be allowed 
to export their tea to America free of all duties 
ooUedible in England, but subject to the duty of 
three pence per pound collectible in the colonies. 
The company asked that the duty payable in Amer- 
ica be remitted, as it brought in no revenue, and an 
equivalent duty be retained in England; but Lord 
North, speaking the mind of the King, refused. 
It was resolved to retain this ae an exercise of the 
right of taxation, and as the repeal of the duty in 
England would enable the company to nndersell 
other nations, it was confidently believed by the 
Ministry that the colonies would bay <^ the com- 


At the same time the King, in answering the pe- 
titions from Massachusetts, asking that their Gov- 
ernor and judges be no longer paid out of the 
royal treasury but be allowed to be supported by 
the colony, expressed his displeasure that they 
should call in question, in their petitions, the right of 
Parliament to bind the colonies in all cases whatso- 
ever, which he declared to be essential to the dig- 
nity of the Crown. Lord Dartmouth had succeeded 
Hillsborough as Secretary for the Colonies, and his 
amiable character, and known opposition to coer- 
cion, had caused a strong hope that the policy of 
England would be changed toward them. They 
now found themselves bitterly disappointed, and 
the most insidious plan adopted to induce them to 
submit to the tax imposed. 

The East India Company, after some hesitation, 
suspecting they were being used as a ^' cat's paw to 
establish the American duty," ^ determined to ship 
cargoes of tea to Boston, Charleston, New York, and 
Philadelphia. The news of the Tea Act and of the 
purpose of the East India Company, caused great 
excitement and indignation throughout the colonies. 
The determination of the Americans not to pay the 
tax was as fixed, as was that of the King to collect 
it, and now they had an organization, in their Com- 
mittees of Correspondence, which thoroughly united 
the people in their measures of resistance. 

On October 21, 1773, the Massachusetts Commit* 
toe wrote urging increased vigilance, united meas- 
ui^es of opposition, and united support of any col<Hiy 
which might be singled out for oppression, as ^^ the 

> Letter of John Norton to Virginia oommittee, dated Jjdj % ITTS. 


trae deedgn of the establishment of our Committees 
of Correspondence." They suggested that if Eng^ 
land should be drawn into a European war she 
would need aid from the colonies, and such aid 
should be withheld till their rights were restored, 
and secured on a permanent foundation. They sug- 
gested that the Committees should at once consult 
as to the extent of the rights to be insisted on, and 
they named one, which every colony had explicitly 
asserted, and should never abandon, '^ the sole and 
inalienable right to give and grant their own 
money, and to appropriate it to such purposes as 
they judge proper." They added: *^We are far 
from desiring the connection between Great Britain 
and America should be broken. Eato perpe^ua is 
our most ardent wish ; but upon the terms only of 
equal liberty." They closed with a reference to the 
proposed shipments of tea, and urged each colony to 
^Hake effectual methods to prevent this measure 
from having its designed effect." 

On November 4, 1773, the Connecticut Commit- 
tee wrote, expressing their uneasiness as to the con- 
sequences of the arrival, daily eiqpected, of the teas 
of the East India Company, but declaring the ut- 
most confidence in the firmness and virtue of the in- 
habitants of the towns to which they had been 

The eyes of all America were directed to the four 
ports to which the tea had been consigned, and the 
Connecticut Committee but expressed the general 
feeling. Nor was the general confidence misplaced. 
On October 18, 1773, a great town meeting in Phila- 
delphia requested of the consignees the resignation 
of their commission, and they deemed it best to com- 


ply* The people of Charleston in public meeting 
received the resignation of the consignees at that 
port The patriots of New York in their City Hall 
resolved that no tea should be landed there. The 
people of Boston, following the action of Philadel- 
phia, were met with a peremptory refusal at the 
hands of the consignees. It seemed that in all the 
difficulties which arose in the prolonged controversy 
with the mother country, Boston was to bear the 
brunt On November 28, 1773, a vessel containing 
tea arrived at that port, and was followed in a few 
days by two others. A guard of citizens prevented 
their landing. Strenuous efforts were made to in- 
duce their return without unloading, and when ev- 
ery effort had failed, a band of men disguised as In- 
dians, on the night of December 16, boai'ded the 
vessels, cut open the tea-chests, and threw the entire 
cargo overboard.* The ships sent to the other ports 
were either forced to return unloaded, or their car- 
goes were seized by the collectors, stored in damp 
cellars, and destroyed. 

All America applauded the firmness of the four 
cities, and awaited with anxiety the effect o;f their 
conduct upon the British Government. That Gov- 
ernment was enraged upon learning what had hap- 
pened. The King declared the Constitution had 
been subverted. Lord North pronounced it the cul- 
mination of years of riot and confusion. Parlia- 
ment treated it as actual rebellion, and determined 
to inflict summary punishment Although all four 
cities had refused to permit the landing of the tea, 
Boston was selected as the object of vengeance ; not 
only because her course was the most obnoxious, 

1 Rise of the BepubUo, 803-8. 


but with the expectation that the colonies would 
leave her to her fate, and that thns her stubborn 
spirit would be broken. 

On March 14, 1774, Lord North asked leave to 
bring in a bill to dose the port of Boston, to go in- 
to effect June 1, and to continue till payment was 
made for the tea destroyed, and tibe Acts of Parlia- 
ment were obeyed. It was given out that it would 
be enforced by an army and navy. Eloquent pro- 
tests were made by Burke, Sawbridge, and Dowdes* 
well, but the bill passed without a division. In 
the House of Lords it met with less opposition, and 
was passed March 30, after a long report had been 
made of ^^ the several proceedings in the colony of 
Massachusetts Bay, in opposition to the sovereignty 
of his Majesty in his Parliament of Great Britain 
over that province ; and also what had passed in 
this House relative thereto, from Ist day of January, 
1764." This exhaustive report, which will ever be 
a tribute of the highest honor to that Aoble colony, 
was used as an indictment upon which her people 
were at once tried and condemned, without an oppor- 
tunity of being heard. 

The noble Earl of Chatham, unable to raise his 
voice in opposition on the floor, protested with his 
pen against the ^^ mad and cruel measure." ^^ Bepa- 
ration," said he, '^ ought first to be demanded in a 
solemn manner, and refused by the town and magis- 
tracy of Boston, before such a bill of pains and 
penalties can be called just. Perhaps a fatal de- 
sire has taken possession of the heart of the Gov- 
ernment to take advantage of a tumult, in order to 
crush the spirit of liberty among the Americans." * 

> Cormpondenoe of the Earl of Clwthttiiy ir., 88(L 



Meeting of Honse of Burgesses, May, 1774.— Trouble with In- 
dians and Pennsjlrania. — Refusal of House to Raise Regular 
Troops. — Oonsultation of Patriots About Political Affairs. — 
Boston Port BiU Arrives. — ^Notice Taken of It. — Dissolution of 
the House. — Action of Members Afterward. — ^Non-importation 
and Annual Congress Recommended, with Delegates to be 
Elected bj a Convention. — ^Mr. Henry the Leader in the Meas- 
ures. — Splendid Tribute to Him by George Mason. — ^Tributes 
to Virginia by Other Colonies. — ^Effect of the Fast Day Recom- 
mended. — Tyrannous Acts of Parliament in Reference to Mas- 
sachusetts and the Colonies. — General Ghige Sent with Four 
Regiments to Enforce Them. — Firmness of the People. ^In- 
structions of Hanover County to Patrick Henry and John Syme, 
Delegates to the Convention. — Commercial Non-intercourse 
Relied on for Redress of Grievances. — Boston Fed by the Pa- 
triots. — ^Virginia Convention. — ^Delegates to Congress. — ^In- 
structions to Them. 

The Virginia House of Burgesses met on May 5, 
1774, at the call of the Governor, who had gotten 
the colony into serious trouble, both with the col- 
ony of Pennsylvania and with the warlike tribes of 
Indians on the Ohio. Pennsylvania had been part- 
ly carved out of the northern territory of Virginia, 
but by reason of an inexcusable blunder in drawing 
her charter, the dividing line could not be deter- 

The northern line was along the forty-second de- 
gree of latitude. The eastern boundary was the 
Delaware River to a point twelve miles north of 
New Castle, and thence southward, the arc of a 


circle having New Castle for its centre^ and a radius 
of twelve miles, the arc stretching from the Dela- 
ware River westward, till it intersected the thirty- 
ninth degree of latitude. The southern line was to 
be from this point of intersection westward five 
d^rees, and the western was to be five degrees 
from the eastern line. The trouble arose from 
the fact that an arc made with a radius of twelve 
miles, and New Castle as a centre, fell far short 
of touching the thirty-ninth degree of latitude. 
Pennsylvania claimed, however, a territory three 
d^rees wide from north to south, and a line on 
the west which would take in Fort Pitt, now 
Pittsburg, built by the Virginians in 1764.^ These 
claims were disputed by Virginia, and had been re- 
ferred to the British Government for settlement, 
but had not been acted on. In the meanwhile 
Pennsylvania was exercising jurisdiction over Fort 
Pitt.' In the summer of 1773 Lord Dunmore vis- 
ited the Fort, and determined to re-establish the 
authority of Virginia over it and the adjacent ter- 
ritory. He found a fit instrument for his design in 
Dr. John Connolly, a man of considerable intelli- 
gence, but devoid of principle. Lord Dunmore 
gave him a commission to gather a military force, 
with which to hold the disputed territory around 
Fort Pitt for Virginia, to the exclusion of the 
Pennsylvania authorities.' He not only committed 
violence upon all persons within this territory who 
adhered to Pennsylvania, but killed several of the 
friendly Indians,* and thus provoked both civil 

^ Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 1., d77. 

* Penniiylyania Archiyes, iy., 479. 

> Idem, 477 and 486. « Idem, 588. 


strife and an Indian war. Having thus brought 
these accumulated troubles on the colony, the Gov- 
ernor appealed to the Assembly to raise a regular 
force to withstand the authorities of Pennsylvania, 
and to chastise the Indians, who were attacking the 
western settlements. 

The Assembly declined to put r^ular troops at 
his conmiand, and instead, recommended ^' to his Ex- 
cellency, the fixing a temporary line between this 
colony and Pennsylvania, until his Majesty shall di- 
rect the true and proper boundary to be established ; " 
and requested him, " to exert the powers vested in 
'him by the act of Assembly for making provision 
against invasions and insurrections, which we doubt 
not will be sufficient for the present to repel the at- 
tacks of the Indians." 

The House then devoted itself industriously to 
its ordinary business, intending to reserve all notice 
of the Tea Act and its consequences till the close of 
the session, for fear of a dissolution. But the crit- 
ical condition of affairs was the subject of earnest 
consultation between Mr. Henry and the most ad- 
vanced of the patriots in the body. Before the re- 
sults of these consultations were made public, news 
of the Boston Port Bill arrived, and it was deter- 
mined to take notice of it at once, as it was to take 
effect on June 1. Mr. Jefferson has recorded in his 
memoir what occurred. He says : 

^^ The lead in the House, on these subjects, being 
no longer left to the old members, Mr. Henry, K 
H. Lee, Pr. L. Lee, three or four other members 
whom I do not recollect, and myself, agreeing 
that we must boldly take an unequivocal stand in 
the line with Massachusetts, determined to meet and 


consult on the proper measures, in the council cham- 
ber, for the benefit of the library in that room. We 
were under conviction of the necessity^ of arousing 
our people from the lethargy into wnich they had 
fallen, as to passing events ; and thought that the 
appointment of a day of general fasting and 
praver, would be most likely to call up and alarm 
their attention. No example of such a solemnity 
had existed since the days of our distresses in the 
war of '56, since which a new generation had grown 
up. With the help therefore of Rushworth, whom 
we immmaged over for the revolutionary precedents 
and forms of the Puritans of that day, preserved by 
him, we cooked up a resolution, somewhat modern- 
izing their phrazes, for appointing the first day of 
June, on which the Port Bill was to commence, for 
a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to implore 
Heaven to avert from us the evils of civil war, to 
inspire us with fiimness in support of our rights, and 
to turn the hearts of the King and Parliament to 
moderation and justice. To give greater emphasis 
to our proposition, we agreed to wait the next morn- 
ing on Mr. Nicholas, whose grave and religious 
character was more in unison with the tone of our 
resolution, and to solicit him to move it. We ac- 
cordingly went to him in the morning. He moved 
it the same day ; the first of June was proposed ; 
and it passed without opposition." 

The Journal of May 24, contains the following : 

" This house being deeply impressed with appre- 
hension of the great dangers to be derived to Brit- 
ish America, from the hostile invasion of the City 
of Boston, in our sister colony of Massachusetts 
Bay, whose commerce and harbor are, on the first 
day of June next, to be stopped by an armed force, 
deem it highly necessary that the said first day of 


June next be set apart by the members of this 
house, as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, 
devoutly to implore the Divine interposition for 
averting the heavy calamity which threatens de- 
struction to our civil rights, and the evils of civil 
war ; to give us one heart and one mind firmly to 
oppose, by all just and proper means, every injury 
to American rights ; and that the minds of his maj- 
esty and his parliament may be inspired from above 
with wisdom, moderation, and justice, to remove 
from the loyal people of America all cause of dan- 
ger, from a continued pursuit of measures pregnant 
with their ruin. 

" Ordered therefore. That the members of this 
House do attend in their places, at the hour of ten 
in the forenoon, on the said first day of June next, 
in order to proceed with the Speaker and the mace 
to the church in this city, for the purpose afore- 
said : and that the Bev. Mr. Price be appointed, to 
read prayers, and the Rev. Mr. G watkin * to preach 
a semon suitable to the occasion. 

"■ Ordered^ That this order be forthwith printed 
and published." 

These resolves were printed in the Williamsburg 
QazeUe of May 26th, and on seeing them the Gov- 
ernor ordered the House to attend him immediately 
in the Council Chamber, and said : 

"Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of 
Burgesses. I have in my hand a paper published 
by order of your House, conceived m such terms 
as reflect highly upon his Majesty, and the Parlia- 
ment of Great Britain, which makes it necessary for 
me to dissolve you ; and you are dissolved accord- 

1 Mr. Gwatkin exooaed himBolf from siokneBs, and Mr. Prioe was re- 
quested to preach the sennon. 


The House, at the beginning of that day's session^ 
had fixed on the same day in the next week for the 
consideration of the papers laid before them by the 
Committee of Correspondence, but the measures to 
be taken had already been agreed on by the lead- 
ers. A member writing to a London corespondent 
May 20, said of these measui-es : '^ The plan pro- 
posed is extensive; it is wise, and I hope under 
God, it will not fail of success." * On the day after 
their dissolution the members met in the public 
room at the Raleigh Tavern, and adopted the fol- 
lowing paper, which indicated this plan : 

" We, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal sub- 
jects, the late representatives of the TOod people of 
this country, having been deprived, by the sudden 
interposition of the executive part of this goveni- 
ment, from giving our countrymen the advice we 
wished to convey to them in a legislative capacity, 
find ourselves under the hard necessity of adopting 
this, the only method we have left, of pointing out 
to our countrymen such measures as, in our opmion, 
are best fitted to secure our dearest rights and lib- 
erty from destruction, by the heavy hand of power 
now lifted against North America, With much 

Snei we find that our dutiful applications to Great 
ritain for security of our just, ancient, and consti- 
tutional rights, have been not only disregarded, but 
that a deteiinined svstem is formed and pressed for 
reducing the inhabitants of British America to sla- 
very, by subjecting them to the payment of taxes, 
imposed without the consent of the people or their 
representatives ; and that in pursuit of this system 
we find the act of the British parliament, lately 
passed, for stopping the harbor and commerce of 

^ American ArcliiTes, 4th series, vol. !., 340. 


Boston, in our sister colony of Massachusetts Bay, 
until the people there submit to such unconstitu- 
tional taxes, which act most violently and arbi- 
trarily deprives them of their property, in wharves 
erected by private persons, at their own great and 

S roper expense ; which act is, in our opinion, a most 
angerous attempt to destroy the constitutional lib- 
erty and rights of all North America. It is farther 
our opinion, that as tea on its importation to Amer- 
ica is charged with a duty, imposed by parliament 
for the purpose of raising a revenue without the 
consent of the people, it ought not to be used by 
any person who wishes well to the constitutional 
rights and liberty of British America. And where- 
as the India Company have ungenerously attempted 
the ruin of America, by sending many ships loaded 
with tea into the colonies, thereby intending to fix a 
precedent in favor of arbitrary taxation, we deem 
it highly proper, and do accordingly recommend it 
strongly to our countrymen, not to purchase or use 
any kind of East India commodity whatsoever, ex- 
cept saltpetre and spices, until the grievances of 
America are redressed. We are farther clearly of 
opinion, that an attack made on one of our sister 
colonies, to compel submission to arbitrary taxes, is 
an attack made on all British America, and threat- 
ens ruin to the rights of all, unless the united 
wisdom of the whole be applied. And for this 
purpose it is recommended to the committee of cor- 
respondence, that they communicate with their sev- 
eral corresponding committees on the expediency of 
appointing deputies from the several colonies of 
British America, to meet in general congi-ess, at 
such place annually as shall be thought most con- 
venient ; there to deliberate on those general meas- 
ures which the united interests of America may from 
dme to time require. 

A tender regard for the interests of our fellow 


subjects, the merchants and manufacturers of Great 
Britain, prevents us from ping farther at this time ; 
most earnestly hoping that the unconstitutional 
principle of taxing the colonies without their con- 
sent, will not be persisted in, thereby to compel us, 
against our will, to avoid all commercial intercourse 
with Britain. Wishing them and our people free 
and happy, we are their affectionate friends, the late 
representatives of Virginia." 

The Gazette in publishing this paper adds : " The 
above was immediately signed by the honorable the 
Speaker, and all the members of the House of Bur- 
gesses, as well as by a number of clergymen, and 
other inhabitants of the colony, who after having 
maturely considered the contents of the association, 
did most cordially approve and accede thereto." 

In accordance with the recommendation of this 
meeting, the committee sent to the committees of the 
other twelve colonies the following letter, signed by 
the sub-committee of correspondence. 

** Williamsburg, May 28*, 1774. 

" Gentlemen : The enclosed papers will explain to 
you our present political state here, with respect to 
the unhappy dispute with our mother country. 
The propriety of appointing deputies fi'om the 
several colonies of British America to meet annually 
in general congress, appears to be a measure ex- 
tremely important and extensively useful, as it 
tends so effectually to obtain the united wisdom of 
the whole in every case of general concern. We 
are desired to obtain your sentiments on this subject 
which you will be pleased to furnish us with. Be- 
ine very desirous of communicating to you the 
opmion and conduct of the late representatives on 


the present posture of American affairs, as quickly 
as possible, we beg leave to refer you to a future let- 
ter on these subjects. 

" We are with great respect your most ob' s*", 

" Pbyton Bakdolph, 
" Ro. C. Nicholas, 
" Dudley Dioobs." 

On May 31, the committee issued an address to 
the several counties of Virginia, urging the ap- 
pointment of delegates to a convention to meet at 
Williamsburg on August 1, to consult upon the 
critical condition of public affairs, and to appoint 
representatives to the congress. 

The plan thus proposed by the members of the 
House of Burgesses was indeed extensive and wise. 
It was to unite all the colonies in their resistance to 
Great Britain, treating an attack upon one colony 
as an attack upon all. Their union to be perfected, 
and their affairs guided, by an annual congress, 
chosen by conventions, bodies representing the sov- 
ereign people which were not under the control of 
the royal Governor, and could not be dissolved by 
him. The means proposed, as a last resort, to 
effect the repeal of the obnoxious Acts of Parlia- 
ment, was a discontinuance of all commercial inter- 
course with England. - Thus Virginia held her posi- 
tion in the front of the Revolutionary movement, 
conspicuous for her wisdom, firmness, and conser- 

The leading part taken by Mr. Henry in these 
measures, and the greatness to which he had at- 
tained, are attested by the following interesting 
letter, written by the celebrated George Mason to 
his intimate friend, Martin Cockburn. 

"yiT.i.uMMfmn, Hajr 2a<*, 1774. 

" Bear Sib : 1 arrived here on Sunday morning 
last, but foand everybody's attention so entirely 
engrossed by the Boston afEair, that I have as yet 
done nothing respecting my charter-rights and, I am 
afraid, shall not this week. 

*' A dissolution of the House of Burgesses is gener- 
ally expected ; but I think will not happen before 
the House has gone through the public business, 
which will be late in June. 

" Whatever resolves or measures are intended for 
the preservation of our rights and liberties, will be 
reserved for the conclusion of the session. Matters 
of that sort here are conducted and prepared with a 
great deal of privacy, and by very few members, of 
whom Patrick Heniy ia the principal. 

" At the request of the gentlemen concerned, I have 
spent an evening with them upon the subject, when 
I had an opportunity of conversing with Mr. Henry, 
and knowing his sentiments ; as well as hearing 
him speak in the house since on difEerent occasions. 
He is by far the most powerful speaker I ever 
heard. Every word he says not only engages, but 
commands the attention ; and your passions are no 
longer your own when he addresses them. But his 
eloquence is the smallest part of his merit. He is 
in my opinion the first man upon this continent, as 
well in abilities as public virtues, and had he lived 
in Eome about the time of the first Punic war, when 
the Roman people had arrived at their meridian 
glory, and their virtue not tarnished, Mr. Henry's 
talents must have put him at the head of that glori- 
ous Commonwealth. 

"Inclosed you have the Boston Trade Act, and a 
resolve of our House of Burgesses. You will ob- 
serve it is confined to the members of their own 
House ; but they would Avish to see the example fol- 
lowed throughout the country; for which purpose the 


members, at their own private expenses, ai-e sending 
expresses with the resolv^e to their respective coun- 
ties. Mr, Massey will receive a copy of the resolve 
from Col. Washington ; and should a day of prayer 
and fasting be appointed in our county, please to 
tell my dear little lamily that I charge them to pay 
strict attention to it, and that I desire my three eld- 
est sons, and my two eldest daughters, may attend 
church in moummg, if they have it, as I believe they 

• ' • • • • . 

" Dear Sir, Your affectionate and 

obedient servant, 
" Q. Masox. 

<* To Mb. Mabtih Ck>CKBUBN.'* 

This letter shows Mr. Henry to have been the 
leader in the measures proposed. 

The action of the Virginia Burgesses was in fact 
the call of the House for a general congress. The 
paper adopted indicated, that the advice it contained 
had been determined ou by the patriot members, 
before the Governor dissolved them. It was ac- 
cepted as the action of the House of Burgesses, and 
was the first call for a continental congress by any 
colonial Assembly, after the passage of the Tea Act. 
Many suggestions of a congress had been previously 
made in the correspondence and prints of the day,^ 
and on different days during the same month of 
May the " Sons of Liberty " of New York,' and a 
town meeting in Providence, Bhode Island,' had 
proposed such a body. The idea had been familiar 
to the people ever since the Stamp Act Congress. 
It is the glory of Virginia that her Burgesses took 

> Bee theM noted In Rise of the Repablio, 881-2. 

• Bencroft, Tii., 40. * Rise of the BepubUo, 883. 


the lead in oaUingt not only a oongress, but an an- 
nual congress of the colonies, involving a pennanent 
nnion. The Assembly of Rhode Island followed 
her example Jane 16, and that of Massachusetts, 
June 17.* 

The potttion of Vii^^nia as the leader of the col- 
omea at this critical jmicture of their affairs, is 
abundantly attested by the commonications received 
irom the several Committees of Correspondence. 

On May 18, 1774, Bamnd Adams, on behalf of 
the (ntizens of Boston, enclosed to the Committee of 
Correspondence for the city of Philadelphia, copies 
of the resolations of the town meeting of that date, 
asking the several colonies, " to stop all importations 
from Great Britain, and ezportations to Great Brit- 
ain, and every part of the West Indies, till the act 
for blocking up this harbor be repealed." Mr. Ad- 
ams requested that these copies be forwarded to the 
southward, together with the sentiments of Phila- 
delphia thereon. 

On the receipt of this communication a town 
meeting was held in Philadelphia, May 20, which 
appointed a Committee of Correspondence with John 
Dickinson at its head, and instructed them to apply 
to the Governor to call together the Assembly of 
the province, and also to assure the people of Bos- 
ton of their sympathy, and determination to adhere 
to the cause of American liberty. The Philadelphia 
Committee, replying to that of Boston on May 21, 

"By what means this truly desirable circum- 
stance of a reconciliation, and niture harmony with 

> BiM of the B«pnbHo, SS8. 


our mother country on constitutional principles may 
be obtained, is indeed a weighty question, whether 
by the method you have suggestea of a non-impor- 
tation and non-exportation agreement, or by a gen- 
eral congress of deputies from the dilEerent colonies 
clearly to state what we conceive our rights, and 
make a claim or petition of them to his Majesty, in 
firm, but decent and dutiful terms, so as that we 
may know by what line to conduct ourselves in fu- 
ture, are now the great points to be determined. 
The latter we have great reason to think would be 
most agreeable to the people of this province, and 
the first step that ought to be taken ; the former 
may be reserved as the last resort should the other 
fail. . . . We shall endeavor as soon as possi- 
ble to collect the sentiments of the people ox this 
province, and the neighboring colonies, on these 
grand questions." 

Copies of these papers were forwarded to Virginia 
through the Maryland Committee, which wrote. 
May 25 : 

" We esteem it a very lucky circumstance, that 
your General Assembly is now sitting, as it affords 
so good an opportunity of instantly collecting the 
sense of your colony on a point on which the liber- 
ties of America must turn ; and was it not absolutely 
necessary that measures should be instantly taken, 
we shomd have waited with pleasui'e your resolu- 
tions, which we cannot doubt will be formed on the 
same generous principles, which have hitherto ac- 
tuated your colonv on every late attempt against 
American Liberty. 

They add that they will at once take the sense of 
their people on the question of entire non-importa- 
tion from Great Britain, including a refusal to bring 


mits for debts due to her inhabitanta, imtU the Bos* 
ton Port bill be repeikled. 

The Delaware Committee wrote May 96, 8ti^;eat- 
ing a general congress, and their oonfidence that 
TOch a proposal, by one of the prineipfd ool<Hiie& 
would be adopted by their people. They added : 

"As the inhabitants of this colony entertain a 
high <^inion of the seal and firmness of those of 
yonr colony in the conunon cause of America, we 
are persuaded that their resolations at this impOT^ 
tant erisis will hare great weight here, and we will 
be glad to have your sentiments thereon." 

These letters were not received before Virginia 
had taken the step suggested by the Philadelphia 
and Delaware Committees ; which, aa we have seen, 
had been determined on by the pattiots in the As- 
sembly under the lead of Mr. Henry before the let- 
ters were written to the Virginia Committee. 

The action of Virginia was applauded to the 

The Connecticut Committee wrote, June 13 : 

" The wise, spirited and seasonable proceedings of 
your truly patriotic House of Burgesses, in early 
pi-oposin^ a correspondence between, and union of 
the colonies, has justly merited and universally re- 
ceived, the approbation and grateful acknowledg- 
ments of British America; and the manly, pious 
and humane attention more lately manifested to the 
distresses of the town of Boston, reflects equal honor 
on them, as men, as patriots, and as Christians." 

The Pennsylvania Committee wrote, June 18 : 
" All America look up to Virginia to take the lead 

LS7 I 


on the present occasion/' and requested Vii-ginia to 
appoint the time and place for the congress. 
The North Carolina Committee wrote, June 21 : 

" We cannot enough applaud the generous spirit 
exhibited by the colony of Virginia upon this emer- 
gencyj and wish the example may be as diffusive as 
it is truly laudable." 

Very different was the effect of Virginia's pro- 
posal upon the Government, who saw in it the 
dreaded union of the colonies. On July 6, 1774, 
Lord Dartmouth wrote to Lord Dunmore : 

*^ The information contained in your letter of May 
last, of what passed in Virginia in consequence of 
the measures pursued in Parliament, respecting the 
Town of Boston, has given me the greatest con- 


" There was reason to hope, from appearances in 
the other colonies, that the extravagant proposition 
of the people of Boston would have been every- 
where disregarded. But it may now be well 
doubted, whether the extraordinary conduct of the 
Burgesses of Virginia, both before and after their 
dissolution as a House, may not become (as it 
has already become in other instances) an example 
to the other colonies." * 

And on August 3, 1774, he wrote to Lord Dun- 
more : 

" The proceedings of the Burgesses of Virginia do 
not encourage me to hope for a speedy issue to the 
present discussion, and we have seen too much of 
the prevalence of the example they have set the 

1 HasBaohnaetto Hktorioal CoUaotionB, ix., 719. 


other colonies, not to be justly alarmed at what 
may be the result of the imconstitutional meeting 
they are endeavoring to promote." * 

The fast proposed was very generally observed 
throughout the colony, and with the happiest effect. 
Mr. JefEerson, in his memoir, says of it : 


" We returned home, and in our several counties 
invited the clergy to meet assemblies of the people 
on June 1, to perfonn the ceremonies of the day ; 
and to address to them discourses suited to the occa- 
sion. The people met generally, with anxiety and 
alaion in their countenances, and the effect of the 
day, through the whole colony, was like a shock of 
electricity, arousing every man and placing him 
erect and solidly on his centre." 

The excitement produced by the Boston Port 
bill was greatly intensified by intelligence of the 
other penal measures adopted by Parliament. These 
were Acts for regulating the Government of Massa- 
chusetts Bay, for administration of justice in that 
colony, for quartering of troops in any of the colo- 
nies, and for regulating the government of the Prov- 
ince of Quebec. By the first of these Acts the 
power to appoint the Council was taken from the 
Assembly ; and town meetings, except for the selec- 
tion of town oflSicers, were not allowed without the 
special permission of the Governor. Sheriffs were 
to be appointed and removed by the Governor at 
pleasure, and the juries were to be selected by these 
dependent officers. By the second, magistrates, 
revenue officers, or soldiers, indicted for murder or 

1 Massacbusetts Historioal Colleotiona, 721. 


other capital offences, were to be tried in some other 
colony, or in Great Britain. By the third, troops, 
instead of being confined to their barracks in times 
of peace, might be quartered anywhere in the colo- 
nies. And by the fourth, the authority of Canada, 
with the Catholic religion, was extended over the 
vast region lying between the Ohio and the Missis- 
sippi Rivers. This denied to the inhabitants the 
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus^ and all share 
in the administration of government. 

While these measures were passing through Par- 
liament, Rose Fuller moved a repeal of the tax on 
tea as an act of conciliation. A long and animated 
debate followed, made memorable by the magnifi- 
cent speech of Burke, but the motion failed, only 
commanding forty-nine votes, the same number that 
opposed the Stamp Act, while one hundi*ed and 
eighty-two voted against it. 

To enforce these cruel measures General Thomas 
Gage was sent over with four regiments, having 
been commissioned as Commander - in - Chief for 
North America, and as Governor of Massachusetts. 

These acts, intended to intimidate, made the col- 
onies the more determined on united resistance, and 
the proposal of Virginia for a congress was gener- 
ally approved. Every county in Virginia elected 
delegates to her proposed convention, and in many 
counties the people in public meetings declared their 
political sentiments, and instructed their represent- 
atives in a manner that showed their clear appre- 
hension of the political issues at stake, and their 
firm determination to maintain their rights at all 
hazards.^ As an example of these declarations and 

1 See these proceedings in American Arohiyes, 4th aeries, i. 


instraotioiis, and aa an indication of the position tafe* 
en by Mr. Henry, who was in accord with his con- 
stituents, the proceedings of his county may be 
<nted. Th^ were printed in the Gaeette as fol- 

"At a meetii^ of the Freeholders of Hanover 
Connty, at the Gonrt House, on Wednesday, Jnly 
20, 1774, the following address was agreed to : 

" 7b i/bAn Syme and PeUriek Seruy, jvmior, Ea- 

" GsNTLEHEN : You havc our thanks for yoar 
patriotic, faithful and spirited conduct, in the part 
yon acted in the late assembly, as our burgesses, 
and as we are greatly alarmed at the proceedings 
of the British parliament respecting the town of 
Boston, and the province of Massachnsetts Bay, 
and as we understand a meeting of delegates from 
all the counties in this colony is appointed to be 
in Williamsburg on the first day of next month, 
to deliberate on our public affairs, we do hereby 
appoint you gentlemen, our delegates ; and we do 
request you, then and there, to meet, consult, and 
advise, touching such matters as are most likely to 
effect our debrerance from the evils with wnich 
our country is threatened. 

" The importance of those things which will offer 
themselves for your deliberation is exceedingly 
CTeat ; and when it ia considered that the effect of 
the measures you may adopt will reach our latest 
posterity, you will excuse us for giving you our 
seutiments, and pointing out some particu&rs, proper 
for that plan ot conduct we wish yon to observe. 

" We are free men ; we have a right to be so ; 
and to enjoy all the privileges and immunities of 


our fellow-subjects in England ; and while we re- 
tain a last sense of that freedom, and those rights 
and privileges necessary for its safety and security, 
we shall never give up the right of taxation. Let 
it suffice to say, once for all, we will never he taxed 
hut hy our own representatives ; this is the great badge 
of freedom, and British America hath hitnerto been 
distinguished by it ; and when we see the British 
parliament trampling upon that right, and actinj 
with determined resolution to destroy it, we wouli 
wish to see the united wisdom and fortitude of 
America collected for its defence. 

" The sphere of life in which we move hath not 
afforded us lights sufficient to determine with cer- 
tainty, conceiiiing those things from which the 
troubles at Boston originated. Whether the peo- 
ple there were warranted by justice, when they de- 
stroyed the tea, we know not ; but this we know, 
that the parliament by their proceedings, have made 
us and all North America parties in the present 
dispute, and deeply interested in the event of it ; 
insomuch that if our sister colony of Massachusetts 
Bay is enslaved, we cannot long remain free. Our 
minds are filled with anxiety when we view the 
friendly regards of our parent state turned into 
enmity ; and those powers of government, formerly 
exerted for our aid and protection, formed into dan- 
gerous efforts for our destruction. We read our in- 
tended doom in the Boston port bill, in that for 
altering the mode of trial in criminal cases, and 
finally m the bill for altering the form of govern- 
ment in the Massachusetts Bay. These several 
acts are replete with injustice and oppression, and 
strongly expressive of the future policy of Britain 
towards all her colonies ; if a full and uncontrolled 
operation is given to this detestable system in its 
earlier stages, it will probably be fixed upon us 


f*latikf ihefef<ver he yMu^reirt obleet^^attkiB a 
qkBadyjapaal of tiM«B<«ete^> an(l£Br)uiip$Wi^;>0ay W4 
recommend tiie odoptioatKC stieb, lopacnn* MiiUm 
{nodnee the hearty am<w.iQf fUl oatJMmntvy^nen.attGl 
NBter oolonkci, VsnwD m Vikso, dzv]&x» ym ruAt 

"To attain this trtBhdd^ftw nnioiv we deehin <nti 
nadineaa to saerifiee ax^ -hmer interest wruifl^ , 
from a soilf dimi^ ntoation, ot jjrodvctionfl peciaC 
iar tooBi 

** We jadge it 0(»idviciTe to^the uri»i!eata'of Aii»- 
ioa, ihat a genenU osoignM o£.dej»itiea fremiaU 
the ookniee be beld^in oidn^ to wn »> fAim ff» 
goarding tile clauoi of the caloniflt^ and tbieirTOCttr 
atitDtional righto, from fatare encroachment, and for 
the speedy relief of our suffering brethren at Boston. 
For the present, we think it proper to form a gen- 
eral association against the purchase of all articles 
of goods imported from Great Britain, except ne* 
gro cloths, salt, saltpetre, powder, lead, utensils and 
implements for handy crattamen and manofacturers, 
whioh cannot be had in America ; books, paper, 
and the like necessaries ; and not to parchaae any 
goods or merchandise that shall be imported from 
Great Britain, after a certain day that may be 
^reed on for that purpose, by the said gen€9'al 
meeting of deputies at Williamsburg, except the 
articles aforesaid, or such as shall be ulowea to be 
impended by the said meeting; and that we will en- 
courage the manufactures of America by every * 
means in our power. A regard to jnstice hinders 
US at this time from withholding our exports; 
nothing but the direct necessity shall indnce as td 
adopt that proceeding, which we shall strive to 
avoid as long as possible. 

" The Afncan trade for slaves we courader as most 
dangerous to the virtae and welfare of this coon-- 
try ; we therefore most earnestly wish to see it to- 
tally discouraged. 





" A steady loyalty to the kings of England has 
ever distinguished our country; the present state 
of things here^ as well as the many instances of it to 
be found in our history, leave no room to doubt it. 
God grant that we may never see the time when 
that loyalty shall be found incompatible with the 
rights of freemen. Our most ardent desire is, that 
we and our latest posterity may continue to live un- 
der the genuine, uualterea constitution of England, 
and be subjects, in the true spirit of that constitution, 
to his majesty and his illustrious house ; and may the 
wretches who affirm that we desire the contrary, feel 
the punishment due to falsehood and villainy. 

" While prudence and moderation shall guide your 
councils, we trust, gentlemen, that firmness, resolu- 
tion, and zeal, will animate you in the glorious strug- 
le. The arm of power, which is now stretched 
brth against us, is indeed formidable, but we do 
not despair. Our cause is good ; and if it is served 
with constancy and fidelity, it cannot fail of success. 
We promise you our best support, and we will heart- 
ily join in such measures as a majority of our coun- 
trymen shall adopt for securing the public liberty. 

" Resolved, that the above address be transmit- 
ted to the printers, to be published in the Gazettes. 

"William Pollard, Glerk^^ 

The plan of forcing a redress of grievances by 
commercial non-intercourse was generally suggested. 
The Boston Committee, writing to the counties and 
towns of Massachusetts, said, "It is the last and 
only method of preserving the land from slavery, 
without drenching it in blood." They urged the 
citizens to unite in a " solemn league and covenant,'' 
under oath not to buy goods from Great Britain, 
and to break off all dealings with those who did so, 
and to publish their names to the world. General 



— ■'-S^^A 



Oag^ who had effectually closed the harbor of Bos> 
ton, and was attempting to enforce the Acts of Par* 
liament touching Hassachnaetts, issiied his prooU- 
mation denouncing this covenant as illegal and 
tnutorous, and ordering the arrest of all who «gned 
or circulated it. The people took fire at this high- 
handed measare, and not only continued to sign the 
ooTenant, but refused obedience to the orders issued 
t(> carry into effect the changes in the charter. The 
people of Boston^ so lai^y dependent on commerce, 
soon began to suffer for the necessaries of life upon 
the closing of their harbor. Their streets were filled 
with soldiers who bad fought on famous battle-fields 
in Europe, and their harbor was filled with men-of- 
war. But nothing daunted the spirit of the people. 
The country supplied the town with provisions, and 
urged it to stand firm. The people of the town 
held public meetings and denounced the tyranny 
under which they were suffering. 

A sense of common danger pervaded every colony, 
and Committees of CoiTespondence were appointed 
in nearly every county and town, by which the^ 
were kept advised and united as to all the measures 
determined on. The sympathy for the people of 
Boston was not expended in resolutions, but provi- 
sions were contributed from all quarters for their 
support, the county of James City leading the way 
in Virginia, July 1, 1774, 

The ministry had expected to see Boston de- 
serted by America and humbled before the 
throne Instead, they saw the town supported by 
a continent, and defiant in the presence of an 
army. The Virginia convention met August 1, at 
Williamsbarg, and sat six days. In defiance of the 


proclamation of General Gage, they unanimously 
agreed to a strict association, and recommended it to 
the inhabitants of the colony ; whereby it was agreed 
to buy nothing, except medicines, imported from 
Great Britain after November 1, to buy no slaves 
imported from any place after that date, and to use 
no more tea. It was further agreed, that unless Am- 
erican grievances were redressed before August 10, 
1776, they would not, after that date, export tobacco 
or any other article whatever to Great Britain. 

They appointed as delegates to the Continental 
Congress : Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, 
George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, 
Benjamin Harrison, and Edmund Pendleton. 

The delegation was selected with the greatest 
care, regard being had to their talents, weight of 
character, and diversity of qualifications, and these 
were indicated on some of the ballots cast for them.* 
Thus Peyton Randolph was recommended by his 
personal dignity and acquaintance with rules of or- 
der; George Washington, by his military talents 
and experience ; Richard Henry Lee by his persua- 
sive oratory ; Patrick Henry by his spirit-stirring 
eloquence, and because, moreover, he was the man 
of the people ; Richard Bland was deemed the best 
writer in the colony, and the man best informed in 
its history ; Edmund Pendleton was chosen for his 
consummate prudence, and thorough knowledge of 
law ; and Benjamin Harrison, as fairly representing 
the feelings of the wealthy planters.* 

An interesting and original sketch of the delega- 
tion is preserved in a letter of Mr. Roger Atkinson, 

1 MS. Histoiy of Virginia by Edmund Randolph. 
' Tnoker's JeffeziOD, toI. L, p. 68. 


who lived near Petersboig, addressed to Samuel 
Pleasants.^ Of Mr. Henry he says: ^^He is a real 
half Qoaker — ^yonr brother's man — moderate and 
mild^ and in religions matters a saint; but the very 

d ^1 in politics — a son of thnnder. He will shake 

the Senate. Some years ago he had liked to have 
talked treason in the House." Of Mr. Randolph he 
says : ^ A venerable man, whom I well know and 
love ; an honest man ; has knowledge, temper, ex- 
perience, judgment— above aU integrity; a true 
Boman spirit. He I find is chairman. The choice 
win do honor to the judges, and the chairman win 
do honor to the choice.^' Of Mr. Lee he says : ^' I 
think I know the man, and I like him ; need I say 
more) He was tHe second choice^ and he was my 
second choice." Of Colonel Washington he says : 
f^He is a soldier — a warrior; he is a modest man ; 
sensible ; speaks little ; in action cool, like a Bishop 
at his prayers." Of Colonel Bland he says : " A 
wary old experienced veteran at the bar and in the 
senate; has something of the look of old musty 
parchments, which he handleth and studieth much. 
He formerly wrote a treatise against the Quakers 
on water baptism." Of Mr. Harrison he says : " He 
is your neighbor, and brother-in-law to the Speaker 
(Peyton Randolph). I need not describe him." Of 
Mr. Pendleton he says : ^' The last and best, though 
all good. The last shall be first says the Scripture. 
He is an humble and religious man, and must be ex- 
alted. He is a smooth-tongued speaker, and, though 
not as old, may be compared to old Nestor : 

*' Experienced Nestor, to persuasion skiU'd, 
Words sweet as honey from his lips distill'd." 

' Old Chnxohes and Families of Virginia, by Meade, ToL L, p. 220. 



But little has been preserved of the debates in 
this convention, but we know that Colonel Washing- 
ton made a speech in which he said,^ ^^ I will raise 
one thousand men, subsist them at my own expense, 
and march myself at their head for the relief of 

Mr. Jefferson was taken sick on his way to attend 
its session, and finding he would be prevented from 
taking his seat, he forwarded by express two copies 
of a draft of instructions for the delegates to 
Congress, one to Mr. Henry, and the other to Peyton 
Randolph who was expected to preside. This pa- 
per became famous afterward, as " A Summary View 
of the Rights of British America." It took the 
bold and radical ground that the colonies were inde- 
pendent in all respects of Parliament, and only 
bound to Great Britain, as Hanover was, by the tie 
of a common Executive, willingly submitted to, and 
thus their rightful sovereign. Mr. Jefferson after- 
ward wrote in his "Memoir"* that "Mr. Henry 
probably thought it too bold as a first measure, as 
the majority of the members did. • . • Tamer 
measures were prefen*ed and I believe wisely pre- 
ferred ; the leap I proposed being too long, as yet, 
for the mass of our citizens." 

The paper which was thus " wisely preferred " is 
as follows : 

" IihsPructiona for the DepvMea anointed to meet in 
Oeneral Gongress on the part of this Colony. 

"The unhappy disputes between Great Britain 
and her American Colonies, which began about 
the third year of the reign of his present Majesty, 

> Works of John Adams, a , 860. ' Note G to Memoixs. 


and educe oontintially increaamg, have proceeded to 
lengths 80 dangeroiu and alarming, as to ezdie just 
apprehensionB m the minda of his Majesty's futhfnl 
sabjects of this Colony, that they are in danger of 
being deprived of their nataral, ancient, constita- 
Idonal, and chartered rights, have compelled them 
to take the same info their most serions conridera- 
tion ; and being deprived of their nsnal and accus- 
tomed mode of making known their grievances, have 
appointed us their Representatives, to consider what 
is proper to be done in this dangerous crisis of 
Amertoan affairs. 

" It being car opinion that the united wisdom of 
North America Bnoald be collected in a general 
Congress of all the Colonies, we have appointed the 
Honourable Feyton Randolph, Esquire, Richard 
Henry Lee, Oeorge Washington, Patrick Hen/ry^ 
Richard Eland, Menjamin Ha/rrison and JSdmwnd 
PencUeton, Eaquires, Deputies to represent this Col- 
ony in the said Congress, to be held at Philadel- 
phia, on the first Mondau in 8eptemher next. And 
that they may be better informed of our sentiments 
touching the conduct we wish them to observe on 
this important occasion, we desire that they will ex- 
press, in the first place, our faith and true allegiance 
to his Majesty, King George the Third, oar lawful 
and rightful Sovereign ; and that we are determined, 
with our lives and fortunes, to support him in the 
legal exercise of all his just rights and prerogatives ; 
and however misrepresented, we sincerely approve 
of a constitutional connectioD with Great Briiavii, 
and wish most ardently a return of that intercourse 
of affection and commercial connection that former- 
ly united both countries, which can only be effected 
by a removal of those causes of discontent which 
have of lat« unhappily divided us. 

" It cannot admit of a doubt, but that BriUsh 
subjects in America are entitled to the same rights 


and privileges as their fellow-subjects possess in 
Britain ; and therefore that the power assumed by 
the JBrMsh parliament, to bind America by their 
statutes, in all cases whatsoever, is unconstitutional, 
and the source of these unhappy differences. 

" The end of Government would be defeated by 
the British Parliament exercising a power over the 
lives, the property and the liberty of American sub- 
jects, who are not, and from their local circumstances 
cannot be there represented. Of this nature we 
consider the several Acts of Parliament for raising 
a revenue in America ; for the extending the juris- 
diction of the Courts of Admiralty; for seizing 
American subjects, and transporting them to Brit- 
ain to be tried for crimes committed in America ; 
and the several late oppressive Acts respecting the 
town of Boston and province of Massachusetts 

^* The original Constitution of the American Col- 
onies possessing their Assemblies with the sole right 
of directing their internal policy, it is absolutely 
destructive of the end of their institution that their 
Legislatures should be suspended, or prevented, by 
hasty dissolutions, from exercising their Legislative 
powers. Wanting the protection of Britain^ we 
have long acquiesced in their Acts of Navigation 
restrictive of our commerce, which we consider as 
an ample recompense for such protection; but as 
those acts derive their efficacy from that foundation 
alone, we have reason to expect they will be re- 
strained so as to produce the reasonable purposes of 
Britain^ and not be injurious to us. 

** To obtain redress of these grievances, without 
which the people of Am>erica can neither be safe, 
free, nor happy, they were willing to undergo the 
great inconvenience that will be derived to them 
&om stopping all imports whatsoever from Grreat 
Britain, after the first day of November next, and 


also fo cease exporting any commodity wbatsoever to 
the same place, after the 10th day of Angustj 1776. 
The earnest desire we have to make as quick and fall 
payment as possible of oar debts to Great Britain^ 
and to avoid the heavy injary that woald arise to 
this coontry £rom an earlier adoption of the non* 
exportation plan, after the people have already ap* 
plied so mach of their laboar to the perfecting of the 
present crop, by which means they have bmn pre- 
vented from porsuin^ other methods of clothing and 
sapporting their families, have rendered it necessary 
to restrain yoa in this article of non-exportation ; 
bat it is our desire that you cordially co-operate 
with oar sister Colonies in general Congress, in 
sacJi other last and proper metnods as they, or the 
majority, shall deem necessary for the accomplish* 
ment of these valuable end& 

^ The Proclamation issued by General Qctge^ in 
the Government of the Province of the MciSMohu^ 
setts JSayy declaring it treason for the inhabitants of 
that Province to assemble themselves to consider of 
their grievances, and form Associations for their 
common conduct on the occasion ; and requiring the 
Civil Magistrates and officers to apprehend all such 
pei'sons, to be tried for their supposed offences, is the 
most alarming process that ever appeared in a Brit- 
ish Government ; that the said General Gage hath 
thereby assumed and taken upon himself powers de- 
nied by the Constitution to our legal Sovereign; 
that he, not having condescended to disclose by 
what authority he exercises such extensive and un- 
heard of powers, we are at a loss to determine 
whether he intends to justify himseU as the Repre- 
sentative of the King, or as the Commander-in-cnief 
of his Majesty's forces in America. If he considers 
himself as acting in the character of his Majesty's 
Representative, we would remind him that the 
statute, twenty-fifth, Edwa/rd the Third, has ex- 


pressed and defined all treasonable offences, and that 
the Legislature of Oreai Britain hath declared that 
no offence shall be construed to be treason but such 
as is pointed out by that statute, and that this was 
done to take out ox the hands of tyrannical Kings, 
and of weak and wicked Ministers, that deadly 
weapon which constructive treason had furnished 
them with, and which had drawn the blood of the 
best and most honest men in the Kingdom; and 
that the King of Oreai Britain hath no right by 
his Proclamation, to subject his people to imprison- 
ment, pains, and penalties. 

^^ That if the said General Gage conceives he is 
empowered to act in this manner, as the Command- 
er-in-chief of his Majesty's forces in America^ this 
odious and illegal Proclamation must be considered 
as a plain and full declaration, that this despotick 
viceroy will be bound by no law, nor regard the 
constitutional rights of his Majesty's subjects, when- 
ever they interfere with the plan he has formed for 
oppressing the good people of Massachusetts Bay ; 
and, therefore, that the executing, or attempting to 
execute, such Proclamation, will justify resistance 
and reprisal" 




New AsBemblj Ordered. — Same Members Beturned. — Prorogued 
till NoTember. — Governor Heads aji Expedition against the 
Indiana on the Ohio.— Battle of Poiot Pleasant,— Treaty with 
the Indiana. — Rosolutions of Officers to Offer Their Swords in 
Defence of American Liberty, — Diinmore Rebaked by Oovern- 
ment, Which Did not 'Wish to Extend Settlement* Westward. — 
llr. HeniT'a Foceoaat of the Baralt of ths Straggle Qoiog on 
with England.— Sketch of TTim at This Period by Edmund 
BftndolpL. — Entertained at Honnt Temon on His Way to Phil- 
adelphia. — Amral with Washington and Pendleton. — Oordial 
Reception. — Character of the Oongrass. — Some of Its Principal 
Characters. — The Great Bepntation with which He Took His 

Lord Dunmore had ordered writs on Jnne 17, for 
the election of a new Assembly to meet August 
11, hoping men of a different temper might be 
returned. But, finding the same members returned 
with Bcai'cely an exception, he prort^ued them on 
July 8, to the first Thursday in November, and 
on July 10, left Williamsburg for the northwest- 
ern part of the colony to prosecute the war with " 
the Indians. The Governor had arranged the con- 
duct of the campaign with General Andrew Lewie, 
of Botetourt, and Colonel Charles I#ewis, of Au- 
gusta, both members of the Assembly. He was to 
command the troops to be I'aised in EVederick, Shen- 
andoah, and the settlements toward Fort Pitt, and 
General Lewis to command those to be raised in 
Botetourt, Angnsta, Culpeper, and Fincaatle Coun- 


ties. The Governor proceeded to Fort Pitt, which 
he now called Fort Dunmore, and promised to bring 
his men down the Ohio to the mouth of the Kana- 
wha, where General Lewis was ordered to meet him. 
General Lewis reached the place appointed, after a 
difficult march, about October 1, but was disap- 
pointed in not finding the Governor or any tidings 
of him. 

On the 9th an express arrived directing Gener- 
al Lewis to cross the Ohio, and meet him at the 
Shawanee towns, which were on the Scioto River. 
To obey the order General Lewis would be obliged 
to cross a tractless wilderness, and to meet first the 
Indian forces. These forces were nearer than Lewis 
supposed, for the morning following he was at- 
tacked by the combined army of the Shawanees, 
Delawares, Mingoes, and laways, under the com- 
mand of the celebrated chief, Cornstalk. After a 
hard -fought battle he repulsed the savages with 
heavy loss on both sides. This is known as the bat- 
tle of Point Pleasant. It was followed by the most 
important results. The Indians at once sued for 
peace, and the white settlements broken up by them 
were again extended to the Ohio River, and ever af- 
terward firmly held. The Virginia troops were mil- 
itia, mostly Scotch-Irish, accustomed to arms indeed, 
but untrained as soldiers, and yet they displayed the 
greatest firmness in battle. Among their foes was 
the most warlike of the Indian tribes, the Shawa- 
nee, which had been foremost in the defeat of Brad- 
dock in 1755, and of Grant in 1758, and was 
destined to gain more than one victory over the 
whites in after years. 

This victory gave the greatest confidence to the 


troops. The officers, flushed with victory, held a 
meeting at Fort Gower on November 6, and de- 
clared themselves ready, at the c&LL of their coantry, 
to draw the sword in defence of American liberty.* 
Among these officers was Colonel William Christian, 
the brother-in-law of Mr. Henry, and a nomber of 
others who afterward distinguished tiiemselves in 
the Revolution. 

Lord Dnnmore returned to Williamsburg Decem- 
ber 4, and received the thanks of the colony for 
his conduct of the war, but it afterward became a 
matter of grave doubt whether he had not designed 
to sacrifice the gallant men under Lewis. While at 
Pittsburg he renewed his irritating measures toward 
Pennsylvania, and caused that colony to raise and 
keep up a regular force to counteract his designs. 

His Excellency found on his return a letter from 
Lord Dartmouth, dated September 8, highly dis- 
approving of his conduct in granting lands to set- 
tlers beyond the Alleghany Mountains, and distinct- 
ly stating the restrictive policy of the Government 
He wrote : " The King, by the royal piwjlamation 
of 1763, forbad settlements beyond the heads of the 
rivers that fall into the Atlantic Ocean ; and al- 
though his Majesty was graciously pleased to accept 
from the Six Nations a surrender of the Ohio, as low 
down as its confluence with the Cherokee River, yet 
such acceptance was accompanied with an order to 
Sir William Johnson, to assnre these nations of his 
Majesty's firm resolution not to suffer any settie- 
ment to be made below the Kanawa River." In ref- 
erence to the treaty with the Cherokees, fixing a 

< Americtui AiohiTea, 4th wriei, i. , 962. Fort Gown mm at Uia jnnc- 
tion of the Ohio knd Hookbocking Biren. 


boundary to the settlements, he wrote : " By that 
treaty, which was concluded at Lockhaber on 18th of 
October, 1770, it was expressly stipulated, that the 
settlement of the King's subjects under the Govern- 
ment of Virginia, should be bounded by a line drawn 
in a certain direction from the mouth of the Kan- 
awa River to the boundary line of North Carolina. 
. . . It is the King's pleasure that you . . . 
exert every power and authority which the consti- 
tution has vested in you ... to prevent any 
settlement whatever being made upon any pretence 
beyond the line settled at the Congress at Lock- 
haber, in October, 1770."^ 

This letter was, unconsciously to the writer, a re- 
buke to the motive which prompted the expedition 
just ended. Mr. Henry, while it was in progress, 
stated to Thomas Wharton, of Philadelphia, who was 
interested in western land purchases, that he " was 
at Williamsburg with Lord Dunmore when Dr. Con- 
nolly first came there, that Connolly is a chatty, 
sensible man, and informed Lord Dunmore of the ex- 
treme richness of the land which lay on both sides 
of the Ohio ; that the prohibiting orders which had 
been sent him relative to the land on the hither side, 
had caused him to turn his thoughts to the opposite 
shore, and that as his Lordship was determined to 
settle his family in America, he was really pursuing 
this war in order to obtain by purchase or treaty 
from the nations a tract of temtory on that side." * 

By the treaty his Lordship made the Indians 
agreed to give up the lands east of the Ohio.' 

^ MasaaoliaaettB HistorioAl CoUectioxiB, x., 7!M. 

* Thomas Wharton to Thomas Walpole, September 23, 1774. Letter 
book of Thomas and I. Wharton, Merchants of Philadelphia. 
' Barkers mstozy of Virginia, iii., 896. 






The serions consequences which now seemed to 
threaten the colomes, because of their determination 
not to submit to the Acts of Parliament, did not 
alarm Mr. Heniy. With that wonderful power of 
forecasting the future, which his knowledge of men 
gave him, he had anticipated that the Btnbboroness 
of the King and the subserrience of Parliament to 
his will, met by the firm purpose of the colonies 
never to submit to their claims, would end in war. 
But he was convinced that in that war America 
would not be called upon to cope single-handed with 
Oreat Britain, and he was assured of the result. A 
correspondent of Mr. Wirt gave him an incident 
which fully attests this prescience.* These are bis 

" I am informed by Colonel John Overton, that 
before one drop of blood was shed in out contest 
with Great Britain, he was at Colonel Samuel Over- 
ton's in company with Mr. Henry, Colonel Morris, 
John Hawkins, and Colonel Samuel Overton, when 
the last mentioned gentleman asked Mr. Henry 
' whether he supposed Great Britain would drive 
her colonies to extremities? And if she should, 
what he thought would be the issue of the war ! ' 
When Mr. Henry, after looking around to see who 
was present, expressed himself confidentially to the 
company in the following manner : ' She will drive 
us to extremities — no accommodation will take 
place — hostilities will soon commence — and a des- 
perate and bloody touch it will be.' * But ' said 
Colonel Samuel Overton, 'do you think Mr. Henry, 
that an infant nation as we are, without discipline, 
arms, ammunition, ships of war or money to procure 
them — do you think it possible, thus circumstanced, 

■ Vlrfa HeniT (ed. 1818), p. S3. 


to oppose successfully the fleets and armies of Great 
Britain V ^ I will tie candid with you/ replied Mr. 
Henry. * I doubt whether we shall be able, alone^ 
to cope with so powerful a nation. But/ continued 
he, (rising from his chair with great animation,) 
* where is France ? where is Spain ? Where is Hol- 
land ? the natural enemies of Great Britain — ^where 
will they be all this while ? Do you suppose they 
will stand by, idle and indifferent spectators to the 
contest ? W ill Louis the XVI. be asleep all this 
time? Believe me, no/ When Louis the aVI. shall 
be satisfied by our serious opposition, and our Dec- 
laraiion of Independence^ that all prospect of recon- 
ciliation is gone, then, and not till then, will he fur- 
nish us witn arms, ammunition and clothing ; and 
not with these only, but he will send his fleet and 
armies to fight our battles for us ; he will form with 
us a treaty offensive and defensive, against our un- 
natural mother. Spain and Holland will join the 
confederation! Our independence will be estab- 
lished, and we shall take our stand among the na- 
tions of the earth ! ' Here he ceased ; and Colonel 
John Overton says at the word independence^ the 
company appeared to be startled ; for they had 
never heard before anything of the kind even sug- 

When this interview occurred is not definitely 
stated, but it is certain that Mr. Henry had been 
convinced before the meeting of Congress that no 
reconciliation would take place, and he did not hesi- 
tate to declare this conviction in debate. 

As he was now about to enter upon a wider field, 
in which he was to be brought into direct contact 
with the wisdom and genius of the continent, it may 
be well to present him to the reader as he appeared 
to an able cotemporary, Edmund Randolph. This 


writer,^ after describing the aristocracy, whicli had 
controlled the colony, and lifted men into position, 
but which now gave way in the hour of peril to the 
true tests of leadership, *^ virtue, talents, and pa- 
triotism,'' gives most interesting sketches of the 
leaders in Virginia as they appeared in the begin- 
ning of 1774. To Mr. Henry he assigns the highest 
honor. He says : 

" To Patrick Henry the first place is due, as being 
the first who broke the influence of that aristocracy. 
Little and feeble as it was, and incapable of darinjg 
to assert any privilege clashing with the ri^ht oj 
the people at large, it was no small exertion in him 
to surpiize them with the fact, that a new path was 
opened to the temple of honor, besides that which 
led through the favor of the King. He was respect- 
able in his parentage; but the patrimony oi his 
ancestors and of himself was too scanty to feed os- 
tentation or luxury. From education he derived 
those manners which belongs to the real Virginian 

Slanter, and which were his ornament, in no less dis- 
aining an abridgment of personal independence, 
than in observing every decorum, interwoven with 
the comfort of society. With his years the un- 
bought means of popularity increased. Identified 
with the people, they clothed him with the confi- 
dence of a favorite son. Until his resolutions on 
the stamp act, he had been unknown, except to 
those witn whom he had associated in the hardy 
sports of the field, and the avowed neglect of lit- 
erature. Still he did not escape notice, as occasion- 
ally retiring within himself in silent reflection, and 
sometimes descanting with peculiar emphasis on the 
martyrs in the cause of liberty. This enthusiasm was 
nourished by his partiality for the dissenters from 

' In hiB MS. Hiftoxy of Virginia in poeseaiion of the Virginia Historieal 




the established church. He often listened to them, 
while they were waging their steady and finally ef- 
fectual war against the burthens of that church, and 
from a repetition of his sympathy with the history 
of their sufferings^ he unlocked the human heart, and 
transferred into civil discussions many of the bold 
licenses which prevailed in the religious. If he 
was not a constant hearer and admirer of that stu- 
pendous master of the human passions, George 
Whitfield, he was a follower, a devotee of some of 
lis most powerful disciples at least All these ad- 
vantages he employed by a demeanor inoffensive, 
Conciliating, ana abounding in good humour. For 
a short time he practiced the law in an humble 
sphere, too humble for the real height of his pow- 
ers. He then took a seat at the bar of the general 
court, the supreme tribunal of Virginia, among a 
constellation of eminent lawyers and scholars, and 
was in great request even on questions for which 
he had not been prepared by much previous eru- 
dition. Upon the theatre of legislation, he entered 
regardless of that criticism, wnich was profuse- 
ly bestowed on his language, pronunciation and 
gesture. Nor was he absolutely exempt from an 
irregularity in his language, a certain homespun 
pronunciation, and a degi*ee of awkwardness in the 
cold commencement of nis gesture. But the corre- 
sponding looks and emotions of those whom he ad- 
oressed, speedily announced, that language may be 
sometimes peculiar and even quaint, while it is at 
the same time expressive and appropriate ; that a 
pronunciation which might disgust m a drawing 
room, may yet find access to the heart of a popular 
Assembly : and that a gesture at first too mucn the 
effect of indolence, may expand itself in the prog- 
ress of delivery into forms, which would be above 
rule and compass, but strictly within the prompting 
of nature. Compared with any of his more refined 


contemporaries, and rivals, he hy his ima^atu^ 
which painted to the boqI, eclipsed the sparklinsB 
of art ; and knowing what chord of the heart would 
Bound in nnieon with his immediate purpose, and 
with what strength or peculiarity it ought to be 
touched, he had scarcely ever langnished in a minor- 
ity at the time up to which his character is now 
brought. Contrasted with the most renowned of 
British orators, the elder William Pitt, he was not 
inferior to him in the intrepidity of metaphor. Like 
him he possessed a rein of sportive ridicule, but 
without arrcKrance or dictatorial malignity. In 
Henry's ezor£um there was a simplicity and even. 
carelessness, which to a stranger, who had never 
before heard him, promised little. A formal di- 
vision of his intended discourse he never made 
but even the first distance, which he took from bis 
main ground, was not so remote as to obscare it, or 
to require any distortion of his course to reach it. 
With an eye which possessed neither positive beau* 
ty, nor acntenesa, and which he fixed upon the mod* 
erator of the assembly addressed, without strayii^ 
in quest of applause, he contrived to be the focus, 
to which everv person present was directed, even at 
the moment of tne apparent languor of his opening. 
He transfused into the breast of others the earnest- 
ness depicted in his own features, which ever for- 
bade a doubt of sincerity. In others rhetorical ar- 
tifice, and unmeaning expletives have been often 
employed as scouts to seize the wandering atten- 
tions of the audience : in him the absence of trick 
constituted the trinmpb of nature. His was the only 
monotony which 1 ever heard reconcilable with true 
eloquence; its chief note was melodious, but the 
sameness was diversified by a mixture of sensations, 
which a dramatic versatility of action and counte- 
nance produced. His pauses, which for their length 
might sometimes be feared to dispel the attention, 



metted it the more, by raising the expectation of 
renewed biilliancy. In pure reasoning he encoun- 
tered many successful competitors ; in the wisdom 
of books many superiors : bat although he might be 
inconclusive, he was never frivolous; and argu- 
ments which at first seemed strange, were after- 
wards discovered to be select in their kind, because 
adapted to some peculiarity in his audience. His 
style of oratory was vehement, without transporting 
him beyond the power of self-command, or wound- 
ing his opponents by deliberate offense ; after a de- 
bate had ceased, he was surrounded by them on the 
first occasion with pleasantry on some of its inci- 
dents. His figures of speech when borrowed, were 
often borrowed from the scriptures. The proto- 
types of others were the sublime scenes and objects 
of nature ; and an occurrence at the instant he never 
failed to employ with all the energy of which it was 
capable. His lightning consistea in quick succes- 
sive flashes, which rest^ only to alarm the more. 
His ability as a writer cannot be insisted on : nor 
was he fond of a length of details ; but for grand 
impressions in the defence of liberty, the western 
world has not yet been able to exhibit a rival. His 
nature had probably denied to him, under any cir- 
cumstances, the capacity of becoming Pitt, while 
Pitt himself would have been but a defective in- 
strument in a revolution the essence of which was 
deep and pervading popular sentiment 

** In this embryo state of the revolution, deep re- 
search into the ancient treasures of political learn- 
ing might well be dispensed with. It was enough 
to feel, to remember some general maxims coeval 
with the colony, and inculcated frequently after- 
ward* With principles like these, Mr. Henry need 
not dread to encounter the usurpation threatened by 
parliament; for although even his powerful elo- 
quence could not create public sentiment, he could 


apply the torch of opposition so as fortunately to 
perceive, that in every vicissitude of event he, 
concurred with his country.^' 

At the invitation of Washington, Mr. Henry and 
Mr. Pendleton visited him at Mount Vernon on their 
way to the congress. They spent a day and night 
with him, and were entertained most hospitably by 
Mrs. Washington, who fully sympathized with her 
husband's political views. Pendleton afterward 
wrote to a friend : ^^ Mrs. Washington talked like 
a Spartan to her son on his going to battle. ^I 
hope you will all stand firm,' she said. ^ I know 
George will.' " The three set off on horseback Au- 
gust 31, and reached Philadelphia September 4,^ 
where they found the members nearly all arrived, 
and were heartily welcomed by them. John Adams, 
on meeting with some of the Virginia delegation, 
noted in his diary : " These gentlemen from Vir- 
ginia appear to be the most spirited and consistent 
of any." » 

All eyes were turned now to the congress, the 
patriots trusting to their wisdom and firmness for a 
deliverance from the thickening dangers which sur- 
rounded them, the British Government looking 
with alarm at the continent in counsel. General 
Adam Stephen expressed the feeling in America 
when he wrote, August 27, to R. H. Lee, and after 
stating that he had been ordered by Lord Dunmore 
to the Ohio, added : " This prevents my attending 
the General Congress, where I would expect to see 
the spirit of the Amphyctions shine as that illus- 

* Extract from diary. Writings of Waahington, ii, 503. 
' Life and Works of John Adams, ii., 863. 


taious council did in their purest times, before 
debauched with the Persian gold. The fate of 
America depends on your meeting, and the eyes of 
the European world hang upon you, waiting the 
event ^' ^ Lord Dartmouth expressed the fears of the 
Ministry in his letter of September 7, to Governor 
Penn,' in which he stated the great concern of the 
King at the meeting, gave the assurance that the 
complaints of the colonies coming from them sep- 
arately would have greater weight, and added, ^' I 
can only express my wishes that the result of their 
proceedings may be such as not to cut off all hope 
of that union with the mother country which is so 
essential to the happiness of both." 

In truth, never were more important interests 
committed to representatives, and never did rep- 
resentatives prove themselves more worthy of the 
trust committed to them by their constituents. The 
verdict of their cotemporaries, as of succeeding ages, 
has pronounced the body one of the most illustrious 
of which history has made record. 

The members were leaders in their several colo- 
nies, men toward whom the people instinctively 
turned in their hour of peril, and in whom, in near- 
ly every instance, they continued to repose con- 
fidence during the eventful years which followed. 
Of those who had already won enviable reputation, 
and were destined to greater distinction still, some 
were found on each delegation. Samuel and John 
Adams came from Massachusetts. The first, a truly 
great man, both in the grasp of his mind and in the 
firmness of his purpose. He was aptly designated 

* Amexioaa Arahives, 4th series, L 740. The writer nxges preparatioiia 
for war howeyer. ' Idem, 774b 


the " Falinums of the BeToIation." His ambition 
was satisfied, when hia long service aa a I^slator 
was crowned by his selection as GroTemor of hia 
State, a free and independent commonwealth. The 
second was a man of lai^ capacity, brilliant, and of 
fervid eloquence, who filled a long list of honorable 
offices. He had the high distinctions of being one 
of the negotiators of the treaty with England which 
acknowledged American independence, the first 
American minister to the Court of St. James, the 
first Vice-president, and the second President of the 
United States. Koger Sherman and Silas Deane 
were among the delegation from Connecticut ; the 
first noted for hia intellect and integrity, and des- 
tined to serve his State with distinction in the 
United States Senate; the second a man of such 
talents and accomplishments as to be sent by the 
Congress to Europe as a negotiator of treaties, 
where he secured the important services of Lafay- 
ette and De Kalb. John Sollivaa sat in the delega- 
tion from New Hampshire, one of the youngest men 
in the body, but one of the ablest and bravest. He 
left the hall of congress the next year for the camp, 
where he served his country as a general officer with 
great distinction, and after its independence was 
won, he again served it faithfully as a legislator, 
and ended his days aa an honored judge of the 
United States. Khode Island sent but two del- 
egates, both men of deserved distinction, the ven- 
erable Stephen Hopkins and the gallant Samuel 
Ward, ex-Governors of the colony. With the New 
York delegation were found Philip Livingston, the 
merchant prince, and John Jay, whose talents for ne- 
gotiation were to be brought into service not only in 


the treaty for independence, but in the later commer- 
cial treaty with Great Britain, and who was to be the 
first Chid^ Justice of the United States. New Jer- 
sey presented as her leading man the accomplished 
William Livingston, who was to be her first Repub- 
lican Governor, and to serve her in many offices with 
distinction. Pennsylvania had at the head of her 
delegation John Galloway, the clever Speaker of 
her L^lature, who proved to be a Tory in dis- 
guise. She afterward added to it his rival, John 
Dickinson, the learned author of the ^^ Farmer's 
Letters,'' who was afterward to be successively 
the Republican Governor of Delaware and Penn- 
sylvania. Delaware headed her delegation with 
GsBsar Rodney, who served her with gi-eat distinc- 
tion in the field, in the Legislature, and in the 
Executive chair. Maryland was well represented 
by that staunch patriot, Thomas Johnson, who was 
ever as ready to fight as to vote, who became the 
first Governor of his State, and one of the judges 
of the Supreme Court of the United Statea With 
him was the singularly gifted, but erratic Samuel 
Chase, who also served on that high court, and be- 
came the subject of a celebrated impeachment case, 
conducted by that eccentric genius, John Randolph, 
of Roanoke. Virginia shone resplendent in the con 
stellation which composed her delegation. Upon 
one of her members, then only known as a gallant 
but modest soldier, bearing the rank of Colonel, man- 
kind have delighted to heap their praises, not only 
styling him Pater Patn^icB^ but declaring him to be 
the greatest of good men, and the best of great 
men. North Carolina's most prominent delegate was 
her adopted son, William Hooper, whose eloquence 


caused Jolm Adams to class him with Hemy and 
Lee as the orators of the body. South Carolina 
also furnished an orator of great power in John 
Butledge, her future war Oovemor, and the third 
Chief Justice of the United States ; but no colony 
sent a nobler man, or firmer patriot, than her Chris- 
topher 6ad9den, afterward a distinguished General 
in the Revolution. 

Nor does this list exhaust the roll of great men who 
composed the congress ; it only gives the names of 
some of the most prominent, who were jprimi inter 

In such abody of great characters Mr. Henry was 
now to appear, and to sustain his reputation, al- 
ready earned in Virginia, as the ^^ Demosthenes of 
the Age." ^ 

> Life and Wodw of John AdMB% it, 867. 



Meeting of Gongress.— Mr. Henry Opens its Bisonssions. — Qaeeiion 
of Representation. — ^Work of the Gongrees.— Proposal of Joseph 
GhJlowaj Opposed by Mr. Henry, who Declares He Expects 
Their Measures to Lead to War. — ^Virginia Leads the Congress. 
— ^Mr. Henry and B. H. Lee on Nearly All the Committees. — 
The Addresses Put Forth by the Body.— Mr. Henry's Want of 
Confidence in Their Effect. — ^Their Impression in America and 
England. — ^Their Anthorship.— Impressions Made by Mr. Henry 
on the Body. — HIb Estimate of John Bntledge and Gteorge 

Ok Monday, September 5, 1774, the delegates as- 
sembled at the City Tavern, and walked to Carpen- 
ters' Hall, which had been offered them as a place 
of meeting. On the motion of Mr. Lynch, of South 
Carolina, Peyton Randolph was unanimously chosen 
president, and Charles Thomson, of Philadelphia, 
secretary. The commissions of the members were 
then read, and thereupon Mr. Duane, of New York, 
moved the appointment of a committee to prepare 
regulations for the Congress. Several members ob- 
jected. John Adams asked what particular regula- 
tions were intended, and Mr. Duane mentioned par- 
ticularly the method of voting, whether it should be 
by colonies, or by poll, or by interests. Thus at the 
outset arose a question of the greatest impoi*tance, 
one which continually threatened disunion after- 
ward, and was only finally adjusted in the compro- 
mise effected in the composition of the Senate and 


House of Representatives under the United States 
Constitution. If the vote should be by colonies, the 
small would weigh equally with the large, and great 
injustice would be done ; if by poll, the unequal 
delegations would also work injustice ; if by inter- 
ests, the body had not data with which to estimate 
the weight of each colony. The difficulty of the 
question impressed the body, and a deep silence en- 
sued. Charles Thomson is said to have described 
the scene afterward as follows:^ ^^None seemed 
willing to break the eventful silence, until a grave 
looking member, in a plain dark suit of minister's 
gray, and unpowdered wig, arose. All became fixed 
in attention on him. 

Ckmticuere omnes, intenH que ora ienebctnL 

Then, Mr. Thomson said, he felt a sense of regret 
that the seeming country parson should so far 
have mistaken his talents, and the theatre for their 
display. But as he proceeded, he evinced such un- 
usual force of argument, and such novel and impas- 
sioned eloquence, as soon electrified the house. 
Then the excited inquiry passed from man to man. 
Who is it ? Who is it ? The answer from the few 
who knew him was. It is Patrick Henry ! 

Ille regit dictis animos etpectora mtUoei" 

We have also another sketch of the scene in the 
following account given by Mr. Thomson of the 
circumstances under which he assumed the duties of 
his office. 

" I was married to my second wife on a Thurs- 
day ; on the next Monday, I came to town to pay 

1 Watson's AxmaJs, i., 421. 


my respects to my wife's aunt and the family. Just 
as I alighted in Chestnut Street, the door-keeper of 
Congress (then first met) accosted me with a mes- 
sage from them, requesting my presence. Surprised 
at this, and not able to divine why I was wanted, I 
however bade my servant put up the horses, and 
followed the messenger myself to the Carpenters' 
Hall, and entered Congress. Here was indeed an 
august assembly, and deep thought and solemn anx- 
iety were observable on their countenances* I 
wsdked up the aisle and standing opposite to the 
President I bowed, and told him I awaited his pleas- 
ure. He replied, * Congress desire the favor of you, 
sir, to take their minutes.' I bowed in acquiescence, 
and took my seat at the desk. After a short silence, 
Patrick Henry arose to speak. I did not then know 
him ; he was di*essed in a suit of parson's gray, and 
from his appeai*ance, I took him tor a Presbyterian 
clergyman, used to haranguing the people. He ob- 
served that we were here met in a time and on an oc- 
casion of great difiiculty and distress ; that our public 
circumstances were like those of a man in deep em- 
barrassment and trouble, who had called his friends 
together to devise what was best to be done for his 
relief ;— one would propose one thing, and another 
a different one, whilst perhaps a thira would think 
of something better suited to his unhappy circum- 
stances, which he would embrace, and think no more 
of the rejected schemes with which he would have 
nothing to do. I thought that this was very good 
instruction to me, with respect to the taking the min- 
utes. What Congress adopted, I committed to writ- 
ing ; with what they rejected I had nothing farther 
to do ; and even this method led to some squabbles 
with the members who were desirous of having their 
speeches and resolutions, however put to rest by the 
majority, still preserved upon the minutes." ^ 

* Amezioaa Quarterly Renew, L, 80. 


Besides these reoollections of Mn Thomsoiii noth* 
ing authentic remains of this speech, except the fol- 
lowing condensed abstract in the diary of John 

^^Mr. Henry then arose, and said this was the 
first General Congress which had ever happened; 
that no former congres s conld be a,precadent ; that 
we sFotQd have occasion for more general congres- 
ses, and therefore that a precedent ou^ht to l^ es- 1 
tablished now ; that it wonld be great mjostice if a ' 
little colony should have the same we^ht in the 
councils of America as a great one, and therefore 
he was for a committee." 

On the next day the discussion was continued, 
and Mr. Adams made the following brief of Mr. 
Henry's speech : * 

" Mr. Henry. Government is dissolved. Fleets 
and armies and the present state of things show 
that government is dissolved. Where are your 
landmarks, your boundaries of colonies ? We are 
in a state of nature, sir I did propose that a scale 
should be laid down ; that part of North America 
which was once Massachusetts Bay, and that part 
which was once Virginia, ought to be considered as 
having a weight. Will not people complain ? Ten 
thousand Virginians have not outweighed one thou- 
sand othei*s. 

" I will submit, however ; I am determined to sub- 
mit, if I am overruled. 

" A worthy gentleman (ego) near me seemed to 

< Life and Works of John Adams, ii, 865. 

* The editor of Mr. Adama^a works pnta this aa part of the flzsfe daj^ dla- 
cossion, hat it ia evident that he ia wiiataken, aa the diary ahowa that 
Bichard Henry Lee took part in it, and the Jounud ahowa that he did not 
take hia aeat till the aeoond day. 


admit the necessity of obtaining a more adequate 

" I hope future ages will quote our proceedings 
with applause. It is one of the great duties of the 
democratical part of the constitution to keep itself 
pure. It is known in my Province that some other 
Colonies are not so numerous or rich as they are. 
I am for giving all the satisfaction in my power. 

"The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsyl- 
vanians, New Yorkers, and New Englandei*s, are no 
more. I am not a Virginian, but an American. 

" Slaves are to be thrown out of the question, and 
if the freemen can be represented according to their 
numbers, I am satisfied. 

Mr. Lee, who had taken his seat that morning, 
and others, objected that they had not the material 
to estimate the weight of the colonies. And Mr. 
Henry added : 

" I agree that authentic accounts cannot be had, 
if by authenticity is meant attestations of officers 
of the Crown. I go upon the supposition that gov- 
ernment is at an end. All distinctions are thrown 
down. All America is thrown into one mass. We 
must aim at the minutiaB of rectitude." 

This meagre account of speeches, which according 
to tradition were of great power, is very valuable in 
showing Mr. Henry's view of the effect of the meas- 
ures of Great Britain upon America. He held that 
these acts, so subversive of the charter rights of Amer- 
ica, had virtually destroyed constitutional govern- 
ment in the colonies, and America must now provide 
for her own proper govefnment. His declaration that 
the colonies were no longer to be regarded as dis- 



connected, but as forming a united people, summed 
up in the sentence, ^^ I am not a Virginian, but an 
American," shows how clearly he had read the 
meaning of passing events, and saw their inevitable 
results. That patiiotic utterance was in truth a 
prophecy, of the future United States of America. 

In opposing Mr. Henry's views Mr. Jay paid a 
handsome tribute to Virginia, saying, ^^ To the vir- 
tue, spirit, and abilities of Virginia we owe much. 
I should always, therefore, from inclination as well 
as justice, be for giving Virginia its full weight." 

The difficulty of ascertaining the relative popula- 
tion or wealth of the colonies, determined the body 
to vote by colonies as units, but in order to prevent 
this from being drawn into a precedent, the resolu- 
tion was adopted in the following form. 

" Resolved^ That in determining questions in this 
congress, each colony or province shall have one 
vote. The congress not being possessed of, or at 
present able to procure proper materials for ascer- 
taining the importance ot each colony." 

After determining to sit with closed doors, the 
proceedings only to be divulged when ordered by a 
majority, they resolved, first, " That a committee be 
appointed to state the rights of the colonies in gen- 
eral, the several instances in which these rights are 
violated or infringed, and the means most proper to 
be pursued for obtaining a restoration of them ; " 
and second, "That a committee be appointed to 
examine and report the several statutes which affect 
the trade and manufactures of the colonies." 

During the evening an express arrived bringing 
an exciting rumor of the bombardment of Boston by 


the British ships, and the rising in arms of the peo- 
pie of Massachusetts ' and Connecticut. The next 
rooming the tolling of mui&ed bells called the peo- 
ple together to hear the temble news, and " War ! 
War ! War ! " was the cry which filled the city. 
In the midst of this intense excitement Congress met, 
and their session was opened with religious services 
by Mr. Duch6, an Episcopal minister, who read as 
the lesson of the day the thirty-fifth psalm, and fol- 
lowed it with an extempore prayer of great elo- 
quence and fervor. With hearts staid on Grod, and 
without trepidation, the members entered on their 
duties ; two members from each colony were chosen 
for the first committee, and one from each colony for 
the second. Mr. Lee and Mr. Pendleton were put 
on the first and Mr. Henry on the second. The 
body then entered the orders necessary to complete 
their organization, and adjourned, subject to the 
call of the president, to enable the committees to 
prepare their work. On the next day an express 
from Boston brought the happy news that no blood 
had been shed. The alarm had been caused by Gen- 
eral Gage sending a military force on September 1, 
to take away the provincial powder from Cambridge. 
The alarm had caused a number of men to arm 
themselves, and start for Boston, but on learning the 
truth they had returned to their homes. 

The temper of the people, so unmistakably shown, 
alarmed General Gage. He took steps to concen- 
trate all the British soldiers in America, ten regi- 
ments, at Boston, and wrote to England for rein- 
forcements. He proposed also to raise a body of 
Indian forces, hoping to strike terror into the hearts 
of the patriots. On September 5, the day the 


Congress met, General Oage commenced to erect for- 
tifications on the neck which formed the only en- 
trance by land into Boston. On the next day dele- 
gates from every town and district of the county of 
Snjffolk met in convention to consider the situation. 
At an adjourned meeting on the 9th resolutions pre- 
pared by the celebrated Dr. Joseph Warren were 
adopted, and ordered to be forwarded to the Con- 
gress. These were more advanced than any public 
action yet taken. They declared among other things 
that the King rules by compact with the people, 
whose allegiance depends on his keeping his cove- 
nant ; that the act for altering their charter was un- 
constitutional and void, and the ofiicei*s appointed 
under it should resign ; that no taxes should be paid 
to the treasurer recognized by General Gage ; and 
that a provincial Congress should be held to con- 
sult as to the measures to be adopted in the present 
emergency. They expressed a determination to act 
on the defensive, so long as it was reasonable and 
requisite for self-preservation, and no longer ; and in 
case General Gage should make any political arrests, 
to seize the crown officers as hostages ; and they ar- 
ranged a system of couriers for the corresponding 
committees of the colony. 

These bold resolves were laid before Congress the 
17th and excited the liveliest interest On the mo- 
tion of Mr. Lee resolutions were adopted approving 
of the conduct of Massachusetts in resisting the late 
Acts of Parliament, encouraging a continuance in 
the same firm and temperate conduct, and advising 
a continuance of the contributions from the several 
colonies for the relief of the people of Boston. These 
resolutions, and those of the county of Suffolk were 



ordered to be published. Mr. Adams wrote in his 
diary : *' This was one of the happiest days of my 
life. In Congress we had generous, noble senti- 
ments, and manly eloquence. This day convinced 
me that America will support the Massachusetts or 
perish with her." 

It cannot be believed that Mr. Henry did not 
take a prominent part in the proceedings, and con- 
tribute his share of the " manly eloquence," though 
we have no record of the speakers. The Suffolk 
resolves very certainly excited his sympathy, as 
they contained the sentiments he had invai*iably ex- 
pressed. On the same day the report of the Com- 
mittee on Statutes affecting trade was brought in. 
This report was referred on the 19th to the Commit- 
tee on Rights, etc., and Mr. Cushing, Mr. Henry, and 
Mr. Mifflin were added to that committee. 

In that committee most interesting and able de- 
bates had arisen on two questions of great impor- 
tance and delicacy. First, on what grounds to base 
colonial rights ; whether on the British Constitution 
and colonial charters solely, or on the law of Na- 
ture as well. Second, what authority should be 
conceded to Parliament. Upon these questions the 
members divided. Those who were for making 
everything bend to the preservation of American 
liberty, were for recun-ing to the law of Nature, 
and for conceding the least authority to Parlia- 
ment ; while those who were for making everything 
bend to the preservation of the connection with 
Great Britain, were for relying on the Constitution, 
charters, and grants, and for allowing all power to 
Parliament except that of taxation. Of the first, 
in the original committee, Lee and John Adams 


seemed. to have been the leaders; of the second, 
Oaljoway and Duane. The matter was referred to 
a sub-committee^ and after considerable discussion 
in that, it was determined to base their rights on 
" the immutable laws of Nature, the principles of 
the English Constitution, and the several charters 
or compacts." But the authority of Parliament, 
which was the essence of the controversy, was much 
more difficult of adjustment Finally, at the in- 
stance of John Rutledge, John Adams drew an 
article which claimed for the colonial legisla- 
tures "exclusive power of legislation, in all cases 
of taxation and internal polity. But from the ne- 
cessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual 
interests of both countries, cheerfully consenting 
to the operation of such acts of the British Parlia- 
ment as are bona fide restrained to the regulation of 
our external commerce ; . . excluding every 
idea of taxation, internal or external, for raising a 
revenue on the subjects in America without their 
consent." Although no one seemed to be fully sat- 
isfied with this, nothing could be suggested which 
was more satisfactory,^ and it was finally adopted. 
This concession of parliamentary power over com- 
merce shows that their aim was not independence. 

Another matter of difficulty now presented itself. 
How far back should they seek for infringements 
of rights. This was finally determined by fixing 
on the year 1763, the end of the French War. This 
date was fixed by the Virginians wisely uniting with 
the less resolute members, who were desirous of 
avoiding merely abstract principles which might 
stand in the way of reconciliation.* 

^ Adams's Antobiography, Life and Works of J. Adams, it 374. 'Id. 376. 


Upon the report of this committee Congress de- 
termined, before acting on it, to " deliberate on, the 
means most proper to be pursued for a restoration 
of our rights." This was the great object for 
which the Congress had assembled, and both the 
object, and the manner of accomplishing it, had been 
distinctly set forth in the resolutions of the Virginia 
convention appointing delegates. These were said 
to be, " to consider of the most proper and effectual 
manner of so operating on the commercial connec* 
tions of the colonies with the mother country, as to 
procure redress for the much injured Province of 
Massachusetts Bay ; to secure British America from 
the ravage and ruin of arbitrary taxes, and as speed- 
ily as possible to procure the return of that harmony 
and union so beneficial to the whole Empire, and 
so ardently desired by all British America." And 
in their instructions to the delegates the convention 
had expressed their willingness to fix November 1, 
1774, as a day for stopping all imports, and August 
10, 1775, for stopping all exports. This was con- 
sidered as a refusal on the part of Virginia to con- 
sent to earlier dates, while it was believed by many 
that to give efiicient relief to Boston and Massachu- 
setts these measures ought to take effect at once. 
Mr. Henry did not believe that these measures 
would cause the desired change in the British pol- 
icy. Yet, for the sake of unanimity, he was will- 
ing that they should be tried. He was not willing, 
however, that either of the measures should be en- 
forced without fair warning to the American mer- 
chants, who would otherwise be ruined. This is in- 
dicated by the note made by John Adams of the 
debate on fixing the date for non-impoi*tation, in 


which he representB Mr. Henry as saying : " We 
don't mean to hart even oar rascals, if we have any. 
I move that December may be inserted instead of 

This motion prevuled, and it was determined to 
fix December 1, 1774, for non-importation, and Sep- 
tember 10, 1775, for non-exportation, in case the 
obnozione Acts were not then repealed. 

In order to give efficiency to these measores, it 
was necessary that they shonid be nniversally ob- 
served, and to efEect this the Congress recommended 
that a committee be chosen in every connty, city, 
and town in America, charged with the duty of en- 
forcing their observance. This recommendation re- 
sulted in an organization of great power and useful- 
ness, and of vital importance in the struggle which 

These measures were at first framed so as to em- 
brace all articles of trade with England, but so de- 
pendent was South Carolina npoii the sale of her 
rice, that her delegates insisted on excepting it, and 
being refused, they all, except Gadsden,' withdrew 
from the Congress for several days. For the sake of 
harmony rice was finally excepted, and the Articles 
of Association, as the resolutions were called, were 
signed by the members October 20. 

While Congress was in the midst of this impor- 
tant and delicate subject, and greatly perplexed, a 
proposal was sprung upon the body by Joseph Gal- 

' Thli QDMlflsh mui WM one of tbo most deUrmlsed Mid nnflinohii^ 
of tba pAbriota. In ons of the debatea of the twdj he la repnaented bj 
Elliott in hia New England Hiatory, aa aajing; " Onr seapoit toima ara 
ootnpoeed of brick and wood. If thej are deatio}r«d we have olaj and 
Inmber enongh to rebuild them. Bnt if the llbeitiea of our oonntiy are 
deatio^ed where ahall we And the mateiiala to leplaoe them T '' 


loway, which came near changing the future destiny 
of America. Galloway was a Tory at heart, as was 
manifested afterward when he openly espoused the 
cause of Great Britain. He claimed in the Congress 
to be true to the cause of America, while he was 
acting the spy and reporting to Governor Franklin,^ 
Before he took his seat he had drawn up a plan of 
union between the colonies and Great Britain, which 
he submitted to two royal Governors, Franklin of 
New Jersey, and Golden of New York ; and with 
their sanction, and possibly that of the Ministry, on 
September 28, he introduced the following insidious 
paper, based on the proposal of Benjamin Frank- 
lin to the convention at Albany in 1754, and by that 
body approved. 

" Mesolvedj That this Congress will apply to his 
Majesty for a redress of grievances, unaer which 
his faitnful subjects in America labour, and assui^e 
him that the Colonies hold in abhorrence the idea 
of being considered independent communities on 
the BriUsh Government, and most ardently desire 
the establishment of a political union, not only 
among themselves, but with the mother state, upon 
those principles of safety and freedom which are es- 
sential in the constitution of all free governments, 
and particularly that of the British Legislature. 
And as the Colonies from their local circumstances 
cannot be represented in the Parliament of Great 
Britain^ they will humbly propose to his Majesty, 
and his two Houses of rarliament, the following 
Plan, under which the strength of the whole Em- 
pire may be drawn together on any emergency ; the 

' See Galloway^s letters to Governor Franklin and letter of Franklin 
to Dartmouth, in Aspinwall Papers, Mofisachnsetts Historical Colleotioms 
X , 70C-710. 



interests of both countries advanced; and the rights 
and liberties of America secured : 

"A Plan for a proposed Union between Ghreai 
Britain and the Colonies of New-Hcmipshwe^ the 
MassdchuseUs Bay^ Rhode Islcmd^ OonneoHcuij 
New- York, New-Jerseyj Pennsylvaniaj Marylandj 
the three lower Counties on the Delawa/re^ Virginia^ 
NoriJi Ca/rolmay South Oarolinaj and Georgia. 

" That thei'e be a British and American Legis- 
lature, for regulating the administration of the 
general affairs of America^ including all the said 
Colonies ; within, and under which Government, 
each Colony shall retain its present Constitution 
and powers of regulating and governing its own in- 
ternal police in all cases whatever. 

" That the said Government be administered by 
a President General to be appointed by the King, 
and a Grand Council to be chosen by the Repre- 
sentatives of the people of the several Colonies in 
their respective Assemblies, once in every three 

" That the several Assemblies shall choose Mem- 
bers for the Grand Council in the following propor- 
tions, viz. : 

Kew-Hampshire, Delaware Counties, 

Massachnsetts Bay, Maryland, 

Bhode-Island, Virginia, 

Connecticut, North Carolina 

New- York, South Carolina 

New- Jersey, Georgia, 


Who shall meet at the city of for 

the first time, being called by the President General 
as soon as conveniently may be after his appoint- 
ment. That there shall be a new election oi Mem- 
bers for the Grand Council every three years; and 
on the death, removal, or resignation of any Mem- 
ber, his place shall be supplied by a new choice at 


the next sitting of Assembly of the Colony he rep- 

" That the Grand Council shall meet once in every 
year if they shall think it necessary, and oftener, if 
occasions shall require, at such time and place as 
they shall adjourn to at the last preceding meeting, 
or as they shall be called to meet at, by the Presi- 
dent General on any emergency. That the Grand 
Council shall have power to choose their Speaker, 
and shall hold and exercise all the like rights, lib- 
erties, and privileges as are held and exercised by 
and in the House of Commons of Cheat Britain. 

" That the President General shall hold his office 
during the pleasure of the King, and his assent shall 
be requisite to all Acts of the Grand Council, and 
it shall be his office and duty to cause them to be 
carried into execution. 

"That the President General, by and with the 
advice and consent of the Grand Council, hold 
and exercise all the Legislative rights, powers, and 
authorities, necessary for regulating and adminis- 
tering all the general police and affairs of the Colo- 
nies, m which Ghreat Britain and the Colonies, or 
any of them, the Colonies in general, or more than , 
one Colony, are in any manner concerned, as well 
civil and criminal as commercial. 

"That the said President General and Grand 
Council be an inferiour and distinct branch of the 
BHtish Legislature, united and incorporated with 
it for the aforesaid general purposes ; and that any 
of the said general regulations may originate, and 
be formed and digested, either in the rarliament 
of Ghreat Britain or in the said Grand Council ; and 
being prepared, transmitted to the other for their 
approbation or dissent ; and that the assent of both 
shall be requisite to the validity of all such general 
Acts and Statutes 

" That in time of war, all Bills for granting aids 


to the Crown, prepared by the Grand Council, and 
approved by the rresident General, shall be valid 
and passed into a law without the assent of the 
British Parliament" ^ 

Mr. Adams in his diary noted the debate on this 
proposal. Galloway^s speech displayed considera- 
ble ability, and great subtlety. He pointed out the 
inefficiency of non-importation as a measure of re- 
lief for Boston, which would be obliged to succumb 
before the people of England would be seriously 
affected. Non-exportation he declared, if enforced, 
would destroy America, or so weaken her as to 
make her unfit for the war which might follow. 
He gave a histoiy of the origin of the colonial trou- 
bles, so coloring it as to throw much of the blame 
on America. Claiming to be " as much a friend of 
liberty as exists," he argued that it was necessary 
for America to continue the union with England, 
enjoy her protection, and repay her by allegiance. 
He urged that from the necessity of things the 
power to regulate trade must be somewhere, and that 
the empire could not exist, if this power be divided 
among its parts, and not exercised by the whole as 
a unit. 

Duane seconded the proposal, and it was advo- 
cated by Jay and Edward Rutledge. Lee seemed 
to be in doubt. After praising the colonial govern- 
ment before 1763 he added: "This plan would 
make such changes in the legislature of the colonies, 
that I could not agree to it without consulting my 
constituents." Mr. Henry alone is represented as 
opposing it in the debate. The note made by Mr. 

* Amerioan Arohiyos, 4th aerieB, i. , 905. 


Adams of his s^)eech ie very meagre, yet enough is 
preserved to indicate the fiimneaa of his parpose, 
the cleamesa of his political viuon, and the fearless- 
ness of his utterances. He is represented as say* 

"The original constitntion of the eoloniea was 
foanded on the broadest and most generous base. 
The regulation of our trade was compensation 
enough for all the protection we ever experienced 
from Qer [England]. We shall liberate our constit- 
uents from R corrupt House of Commons, but throw 
them into the arms of an American legislature, that 
may be bribed by that nation which avows, ia the 
face of the world, tliat bribery ie a part of her sjrs* 
tern of g;oTemment. 

" Berore we are obliged to pay taxes as they do, 
let us be as free as they ; let us have our trade with 
all the world. We are not to consent by the repre- 
sentatives of repi'esentatives. I am inclined to think 
the present measures lead to war." 

This proposal is said to have been defeated by 
only one vote.' Mr. Galloway in after years claimed 
that it came veiy near being cari-ied. After its de- 
feat it was deemed best by the body to strike out 
of the record all mention of it, and so its history 
cannot be traced on the printed Journal. The ac- 
tion of Congress on it constitutes a crisis in the his- 
tory of America. Had it been adopted by that 
body it would in all probability have been agreed 
to by Parliament, and the independence of the col- 
onies would have been indefinitely postponed, with 
the wondrous results which have followed in its 
train. We learn from Mr. Galloway that Mr. Sam- 

■ Life and Works ot John Ad«mi, ii , 877 md 387. 

OONmnENTAL 00N6BE8& 385 

nel Adams waa active in defeating his scheme,* and 
to Mr. Henry and Mr. Samnel Adams doabtless the 
honor belongs, of saving America from a contioaed 
colonial dependence on England. 

Having determined on non-importation, non-con- 
sumption, and non-exportation, as measures which 
woolil force Great Britain to respect American 
rights, and appointed a committee to draw np a 
plan for carrying them into effect, the Congress <m 
October 1, determined to address tiie King upon 
the Bobject of their grievances, entreating him to 
interpose for their relief ; and appointed Mr. liee, J. 
Adams, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Henry, and Mr. J. Rut- 
ledge, a committee to prepare the address. So im- 
portant was this paper considered, that the Con- 
gress spent three days in debating what it should 
contain, and in giving instructions to the com- 

On the 6th an express from Boston brought a 
letter from the Committee of Correspondence, stat- 
ing that General Gf^ was cootinuing the erection 
of fortifications, and there was reason to believe 
that when the town was enclosed, the inhabitants 
would be held as hostages for the submission of the 
country ; they therefore desired the advice of Con- 
gress. If it was deemed beet that the inhabitants 
should quit the town, they were ready to obey; 
if it was deemed best for the common canse 
that they maintain their ground, they were 
ready to suffer any hardship and danger; and 
finally, that as the late Acts of Parliament had 
prevented the due administration of justice in Mas- 
sachusetts, and the Governor had prevented the 

■ Not« to ewnliwtitn ot JoMpb OftUowBj baton FarilaiiMnt, in 1770. 



meeting of the General Court, they desired the ad- 
vice of Congress as to how to act during this sus- 
pension of laws. The Congress thereupon sent a 
letter to General Gage, representing themselves as 
guardians of the rights and liberties of the colonies, 
and expressing, "the deepest concern, that while 
they were pursuing every dutiful and peaceable 
measure to procure a cordial and effectual reconcil- 
iation between Great Britain and the colonies, his 
Excellency should proceed in a manner that bears 
so hostile an appearance.'' 

Having determined on this letter, it was resolved, 
" that this Congress approve the opposition of the 
inhabitants of the Massachusetts Bay to the execu- 
tion of the late Acts of Parliament ; and if the same 
shall be attempted to be carried into execution by 
force, in such case all America ought to support 
them in their opposition." 

This resolution was stoutly opposed by Galloway 
and Duane, who when outvoted asked leave to enter 
a protest on the Journal. This was refused them, 
and they exchanged memoranda with each other, to 
preserve the evidence that they had opposed it as 

Congress further resolved, that the question of a 
removal of the inhabitants of Boston from the town 
should be left to the Colonial Assembly, and in case 
that body ordered the removal, all America ought 
to recompense the inhabitants for their losses. It 
was also recommended to the people of Massachu- 
setts, to submit for the present to a suspension of 
the administration of justice, and to avoid, as far as 
it was possible to do so, any conflict with the Brit- 

1 Bue of the Bepublio, 869. 


ish troops, taking care to act firmly on the defen- 

On October 11, Mr. Lee, Mr. Livingston, and 
Mr. Jay, were appointed a committee to prepare a 
memorial to the people of British America, and an 
address to the people of Great Britain. 

On this day Mr. Adams made the following in- 
teresting entry in his diaiy. "Spent the evening 
vdth Mr. Henry at his lodgings, consulting about a 
petition to the King. Henry said he had no public 
education ; at fifteen he read Virgil and Livy, and 
has not looked into a Latin book since. His father 
left him at that age ^ and he has been struggling 
through life ever since. He has high notions, 
talks of exalted minds, etc. He has a horrid opin- 
ion of Galloway, Jay and the Rutledges. Their 
system, he says, would ruin the cause of Amer- 
ica. He is veiy impatient to see such fellows, 
and not be at liberty to describe them in their true 

This estimate of Galloway, Jay, and the Rut- 
ledges, was sufficiently justified by the course pur- 
sued by them severally touching the Galloway plan 
of settlement, the non-exportation resolution, and 
the determination to support the people of Massa- 
chusetts in their opposition to their new charter at 
all hazards ; in some of which measures, and proba- 
bly in all, they directly antagonized the views of 
Mr. Heniy and the majority of Congress. 

Fully aware as Mr. Henry was of the perilous 
position of the colonies, and the necessity of ener- 

1 This was a misapprehension on the part of Mr. Adams. Mr. Henry's 
father pnt him to buniness at fifteen, and this was what Mr. Henry al- 
luded to. 


getic counsels, yet he saw the greater necessity of a 
united people, and he forbore to drive off men of 
influence by attacking with his powers of invective 
their half-hearted measures. The wisdom of this 
course was fully demonstrated, by the final align- 
ment of the true but halting Whigs with the front 
rank of the patriots. 

On October 21, in order to meet the threats of 
arrest of some of the members, which had been 
freely made. Congress determined that the arrest of 
any one to be transported beyond the seas for trial, 
should be met with resistance and reprisal. 

John Dickinson, who had been added to the Penn- 
sylvania delegation on the 13th, took his seat on the 
17th, and on the 21st was put on a committee with 
Mr. Gushing and Mr. Lee to prepare an address to 
the people of Quebec, and letters to the colonies of 
St John, Nova Scotia, Georgia, and East and West 
Florida, which had no delegates in the Congress. 

After the adoption of the several papers ordered 
the Congress adjourned on October 26, \vith a rec- 
ommendation that another be held on May 10, fol- 
lowing, unless a redress of grievances should be 
granted by Great Britain before that date. 

That the action of the Congress would result in 
a redress of grievances was the confident belief of 
nearly all of the members, and of the people gen- 
erally. This is abimdantly shown by cotempora- 
neous testimony. But Mr. Henry was of a differ- 
ent opinion, and while willing to try the proposed 
measures he was for preparing for the worst Not 
only does his speech on Galloway's plan show this, 
as reported by John Adams, but Mr. Adams after- 
ward bore explicit testimony to the fact In a 


letter ^ to William Wirt, dated January 28, 1818, he 
said : 

^^ When Congress had finished their business, as 
they thought, in the autumn of 1774, 1 had with Mr. 
Henry, before we took leave of each other, some 
familiar conversation, in which I expressed a full 
conviction that our resolves, declarations of rights, 
enumeration of wrongs, petitions, remonstrances, and 
addresses, associations, and nonimportation agree- 
ments, however they might be expected by the peo- 
ple in America, and however necessary to cement 
the union of the colonies, would be but waste pa- 
per in England. Mr. Henry said they might make 
some impression among the people of England, but 
agreed with me that they would be totally lost 
upon the government. I had but just received a 
short and hasty letter, written to me by Major Jo- 
seph Hawley, of Northampton, containing ' a few 
broken hints ' as he called tnem, of what he thought 
was proper to be done, and concluding with these 
words: ^ After all we must fight. ^ This letter I 
read to Mr. Heniy, who listened with great atten- 
tion ; and as soon as I had pronounced the words, 
* After all we must fight,' he raised his head, and 
mth an energy and vehemence, that I can never for- 
get, broke out with, ' By G d, I am of that 

man's mito).' I put the letter into his hand, and 
when he had read it, he returned it to me with an 
equally solemn asseveration, that he agreed entirely 
in opinion with the writer. I considered this as a 
sacred oath, upon a very great occasion, and could 
have sworn it as religiously as he did, and by no 
means inconsistent with what you say, in some part 
of your book, that he never took the sacred name in 
vain. . . . The other delegates from Virginia 
returned to their state, in full confidence that all 

1 Life and Works of John Adams, z., 277. 


our grievances would be redressed. The last words 
that Kichard Henry Lee said to me, when we parted, 
were, * We shall mfallibly ca/rry all our points^ you 
will he completely relieved; all the offensive acts 
will he repealed: the a/rmy and fleet wtu be recalled^ 
a/nd Britain wiU give v/p her foolish project^ 

" Washington only was in doubt He never spoke 
in publia In private he joined with those who ad- 
vocated a n6n-exportation, as well as a non-im- 
portation agreement. With both he thought we 
should prevail ; without either he thought it doubt- 
ful. Henry was clear in one opinion, Eichard 
Henry Lee m an opposite opinion, and Washington 
doubted between the two. Henry however ap- 
peared in the end to be exactly in the right." 


In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, November 12, 
1813,^ Mr. Adams also wrote: "In the Congress of 
1774, there was not one member, except Patrick 
Henry, who appeared to me sensible of the preci- 
pice, or rather, the pinnacle on which he stood, and 
had candor and courage enough to acknowledge it." 

Independence was not the wish of the Congress, 
but it was their determination to maintain the rights 
of the colonies at all hazards, and to the last ex- 
tremity. This was explicitly stated, not only in the 
papers adopted, but in their private utterances as 
recorded in the correspondence of the members.' 
In this they correctly represented the people, who 
as yet only desired to be left in possession of their 
rights as they had been enjoyed before 1763. 

As the struggle soon ended in open war, the Con- 
gress has been criticised by some later writers for 

* Life and Works of John Adams, z. , 78. 

^ Letter of George Washington to Captain Ifackensie, October 9, 1774. 
Letter of John Jay to G. A. Otis, Juiaaiy 13, 18dl. 


not at once preparing for the appeal to arms, and 
for adopting the system of non-importation and non- 
exportation, which prevented the colonies from sup- 
plying themselves with those articles so necessary 
for the proper conduct of war. These criticisms 
are unjust. The action of the Congress must be 
judged by the condition of things surrounding them. 
That action was directed by the instructions of Vir- 
ginia to her delegation, and was in accoi*dance with 
the desire of all the colonies. Different action 
would have produced divisions, more dangerous than 
all else in the approaching strife. Nothing could 
have produced the unanimity with which America 
entered into the war, except the failure of the meas- 
ures adopted by the Congress. Similar measures 
had caused the repeal of nearly all of the Towns- 
hend Acts, and it was the general hope that they 
would again prove effective. Until they had been 
tried and failed the colonies could not have been 
united in other measures of opposition. Nor were 
the people without good ground for their hope. 
The export trade of England with the colonies was 
over six millions of pounds sterling, and constituted 
much more than one-third of her exports ; ^ while 
the exports from America to England must have 
been as great, as the colonies had not the specie 
with which to settle a balance of trade against 
them. In the article of grain alone, including 
rice, the exports from America exceeded one mil- 
lion in value, so that Burke could remind Great 
Britain in March, 1775, that "For some time past 
the Old World has been fed from the New. The 
scarcity which you have felt would have been a 

* Speech of Burke on ConoiliatioD, March 22, 1775. 


desolating famine if the child of your old age, 
with true filial piety, with a Roman charity, had 
not put the full breast of its youthful exuberance 
to the mouth of its exhausted parent" To sud- 
denly arrest this great trade, and to suspend the 
payment of the large balances due to English mer- 
chants, it was believed would seriously affect the 
prosperity of England, and cause a popular demand 
for a change of public measures. This last was the 
design of the colonies, and it was reasonable to ex- 
pect it would follow. To accomplish it they will- 
ingly suffered the privation demanded of them, 
and loyally trusted that it would result in their 
continued connection with England on the old 

But these measures did not greatly weaken the 
colonies. Their first effect was of course to create 
a scarcity of all articles of importation, but this at 
once stimulated home production, and caused the 
colonies to become in a short time nearly self-sus- 

Virginia was undoubtedly the leading colony in 
the Congress and no other could have contested her 
precedence except Massachusetts. But the peculiar 
condition of the latter, and the suspicion on the part 
of many that New England was aiming at inde- 
pendence, caused her delegates to keep as much in 
the background as possible. John Adams tells us 
that it was for this reason that the Virginia dele- 
gates were put forward as the leaders of the body.^ 
That the action of the Congress under this leader- 
ship was all that was desired by the Massachusetts 
delegates, we are assured by Samuel Adams in a let- 

1 AdamB to T. PickeriDg, Life and Wozka of John Adama, ii, 513. 



ter read in the Provincial Congress of that colony, 
October 27, 1774.^ 

The Journal fully sustains the fact of Virginia's 
leadership, as it shows that a Virginia delegate 
was placed upon every committee appointed, ex- 
cept the one to revise and publish the Journal. 
Where the conmiittees were important there were 
always two members from Virginia, however small 
the committee. Mr. Henry or Mr. Lee was al- 
most invariably the member, and sometimes both 
were on the same committee. Thus the impress 
of these two men was upon the entire proceed- 

The statement that Mr. Henry was placed upon 
the committee to pi*epare a petition to the King be- 
cause of his splendid speech at the opening, and that 
he showed himself inefficient in matters of detail,' 
is proved to be untrue, by the record. This shows 
that the committees were selected by the body, that 
the first on which Mr. Henry was placed was the one 
appointed September 7, to report the statutes which 
affected the trade and manufactures of the colonies 
— a work of dry details. This committee reported 
on the 17th, and on the 19th, its report was referred 
to the committee to state the rights of the colonies, 
and Mr. Henry was added to that committee. A 
report was made by that committee September 24, 
and October 1, Mr. Henry was appointed on the 
committee to prepare the petition to the King. 
These facts show the high estimate of him by the 
body as a committee man. It is worthy of note 
that his resolutions against the Stamp Act were 

^ American ArchWes, i., 949. Weirs Life of Samuel Adams, ii, 245. 
' Made by Mr. Jefferson in his letter to Mr. Wirt. 


substantially incorporated in the report on the 
rights of the colonies. 

The wisdom, the dignity, the firmness, the states- 
manship, the elevated patriotism displayed in the 
papers adopted by the Congress, and the elegance 
of their composition, excited the highest admiration 
among the patriots of America and their friends in 
England. Lord Chatham said of them in the House 
of Lords : ^ '* When your lordships look at the pa- 
pers transmitted us from America, when you con- 
sider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, you can- 
not but respect their cause, and wish to make it 
your own. For myself, I must declare and avow, 
that in all my reading of history and observation — 
and it has been my favorite study — I have read 
Thiicydides, and have studied and admired the mas- 
ter-states of the world — ^that for solidity of reason- 
ing, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion 
under such a complication of difficult circumstances, 
no nation, or body of men, can stand in preference to 
the general Congress at Philadelphia. I trust it is 
obvious to your lordships, that all attempts to im- 
pose servitude upon such men, to establish despot- 
ism over such a mighty continental nation, must be 
vain, must be fatal." And Lord Camden is reported 
to have said ' of the body, " that he would have given 
half his fortune to have been a member of that 
which he believed to be the most virtuous public 
body of men which ever had or ever would meet 
together in this world." 

The authorship of the several papers of the Con- 
gress in after years became a matter of earnest dis- 
cussion, when nearly all the members were in their 

' Parliamentary History, xyiii., 156. * Life of James Izedell, i, 229. 



graves. It seems to have been definitely determined 
that Richard Henry Lee virrote the memorial to 
the people of British America, John Jay the ad- 
dress to the people of Great Britain, and John 
Dickinson the address to the people of Quebec. A 
copy of the report upon the rights of the colonies 
has been found in the handwriting of John Sulli- 
van, the chairman of the committee, and he may be 
presumed to have been its author, in the absence of 
other testimony. A copy of a petition to the King 
has been found in the handwriting of Richard 
Henry Lee,^ which is very imperfect, and contains 
none of the matters directed by the Congress to 
be inserted in it It i^ claimed by his biographer 
that he wrote the address first reported. But tfohn 
Dickinson claimed the authorship of the paper 
adopted. The first report of the committee was on 
October 21. The Journal says : " The address to 
the King being read, after debate, ordered that the 
same be recommitted, and that Mr. J. Dickinson be 
added to the committee." A second report was 
made on Monday 24. In a letter to Dr. Logan, 
September 15, 1804, John Dickinson wrote of this 
address : ' " The truth is, that the draught brought 
in by the original committee was written in lan- 
guage of aspeiity, very little according with the 
conciliatory disposition of Congress. The committee 
on my being added to them desired me to draw the 
address, which I did, and the draught was reported 
by me." 

The statement of Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Wirt, that 
on attending the next Congress he was informed 

' Southern Literary Messenger for March, 1860. 
' American Quarterly Review, 1. , 414. 


that Mr. Henry was selected by his committee to 
draw this petition to the King, must have been 
erroneous, an error either due to the imperfect 
memory of Mr. Jefferson or to incorrect infonna- 
tion on the part of his informant. It was doubt- 
less because of the incorrect information given him 
by Mr. Jefferson, both as to Mr. Henry and Mr. 
Lee, that Mr. Wirt was led to say of them,* that in 
the details of business they were completely thrown 
in the shade by the other members. The Journal 
of the body and the diary of John Adams show 
that they were highly appreciated as committee men. 

The impression Mr. Henry made upon the body 
may be estimated by the tribute to him by John 
Adams in his letter to Mr. Wirt, January 23, 1818.* 
Said he : "I esteem the character of Mr. Henry an 
honor to our country, and your volume a masterly 
delineation of it. . . . From peraonal acquaint- 
ance, perhaps I might say a friendship, with Mr. 
Henry of more than thirty years, and from all that 
I have heard or read of him, I have always con- 
sidered him as a gentleman of deep reflection, keen 
sagacity, clear foresight, daring enterprise, inflexible 
intrepidity and untainted integrity, with an ardent 
zeal for the liberties, the honor, and the felicity of 
his country, and his species." 

And in his diary for October 10, 1774, he wrote, 
" Lee, Henry and Hooper are the orators." 

We have also a contemporaneous statement of 
Silas Deane, in a letter to his wife, dated September 
19, 1774, two days after the discussion on the Suf- 
folk Resolves. He wrote : 

" Mr. Henry is also a lawyer, and the compleatest 

' Wirt's Henrj, Section iy. » Life and Works of John Adams, x., 277. 


speaker I ever heard. If his fatnre speeches are 
eqoal to the small samples he has hitherto given tu, 
they will be worth preserving ; but in a letter I oan 
^ve you no idea of the music of his voice, or the 
high wrought yet natural el^ance of his style and 
manner. Col. Lee is said to be his rival in elo- 
quence, and in Virginia and to the southward they 
are styled the Demaaffuiies and Oeero of America. 
God grant &ey may not, like them, plead in vain for 
the liberties of their country I These last gentle- 
men are now in fall life, perliAps near fifty, and have 
made ihe constitution and hutory ci Great Britain 
and America their capital study ever since the late 
troubles between them have arisen." ' 

Mr. Henry formed a warm personal attachment 
to several of the members, and especially to John 
and Samuel Adams, whose talents and ardent pa- 
triotism he greatly admired. When returned to his 
home he was asked by a neighbor who he thought 
the greatest man in Congress i He answered " Rut- 
ledge, if you speak of eloquence, ia by far the great- 
est orator, but Col. Washington, who has no pre- 
tensions to eloquence, is a man of more solid 
judgment and information than any man on that 
floor."* As he looked upon Mr. John Rntledge^s 
views with dislike, and 'as Colonel Washington's 
modesty had kept him in the background, so that 
he had not been placed upon a single committee, 
this reply indicates not only the great discrimina- 
tion, but the justice of Mr. Henry in judging men, 
whether friends or opponents. 

> Cotlsctdoo of Conneotleat Hlatorfoal Sooletj, iL, 181. 
< MS. Lett«r of ITathuilsl Pope to WOllun Wilt. Captain Dkbuey, wbo 
■aked the qutalioi), Mlatad the incident to Mi: Pope. 


ABMING THE COLONY— 1774-1775. 

Letter of Patrick Henry's Mother. — Condaot of €k>7emor Diin- 
more. — ^Hanover Oonnty, under the Inflnenee of Fatriok Henty, 
Leads in Adopting the Association^ and Appointing a Oommit- 
tee to Enforce it. — ^Virginia Aids in Supporting the People 
of Boston. — ^Hanorer Yolnnteers Enlisted.— Effect of the Ad- 
dresses of Congress in England. — Second Virginia Conyention. 
— ^Patrick Henzy Moycs to Arm the Colony. — His Eloqnent 
Speech in Support of His Motion. — Accounts Given by Edmnnd 
E^dolph, John Tyler and Si (George Tucker. — Descrip- 
tion by a Baptist Clergyman. — By John Boane. — By Thomas 
MarshalL — ^Proceedings in Parliament. — Ordinances of the Yir- 
gfinia Conyention. 

A LETTBR of Mr. Heniy 8 mother, written during his 
absence in Congress, is interesting as affording a 
glimpse of the condition of the colony, and showing 
her own pious trust in God. She had gone on a 
visit to her daughter, Mrs. Anne Christian, in Bote- 
tourt County, and, while with her. Colonel Christian 
was called to take pai't in the Indian war. He 
aiTanged that Mrs. Henry should carry his wife and 
children home with her to Hanover, in order that 
they might be in no danger from the Indians dur- 
ing his absence with Dunmore's army. On their 
way they stayed a night with Colonel William Flem- 
ing, whose wife was a sister of Colonel Christian, 
and met, at his house, his sister-in-law, Rosina Chris- 
tian, afterward the wife of Caleb Wallace. On 
reaching home, Mrs. Henry wrote Mrs. Fleming the 
following letter, which is not only interesting in 


itself, but also from the fact that it is probably 
the only letter of Mrs. Henry which has been 

<*16 00T0BBS, 1T74. 

" Dbab Madam : Kind Providence preserved me 
and all with me safe to our home in Hanover. 
Here people have been very sickly, but hope the 
sickly season is nigh over. My dear Annie has 
been ailing two or thi*ee days with a fever. The ^ .^.> 

dear children are very well. My son Patrick has ^ 
gone to Philadelphia near seven weeks. The a£Eairs ^ 
are kept with great secrecy, nobody being allowed o'^ .i^^ 
to be present. I assure you we have our lowland 
troubles and fears with respect to Great Britain. 
Perhaps oui* good God may bring us out of these 
many evils, which threaten us not only from the 
mountains but from the seas. I can not forget to 
thank my dear Mrs. Fleming for the great kind- 
ness that you showed us in Botetourt, and assure 
you that I remember Colonel Fleming and you 
with much esteem and best wishes, and shall take 
it very kind if you will let me hear from you. 

"My daughter Betty joins me in kind love to 
yourself and Miss Rosie, and especially to your 
dear good mother when you see her. 

** I am, dear madam, your humble servant, 

''Sarah Henry." 

Mr. Henry found on his return the Assembly 
further prorogued, the Governor still on his Indian 
expedition, and the courts of the colony entirely 
suspended because of the expiration of the act for 
negotiating and collecting officers' fees. Even after 
the Governor's return in December he refused to 
call the Assembly together, hoping the political 
excitement would abate, and fearing the action 


di the body. But his course inflamed the popular 
feeling. The people came together in county meet- 
ings, approved the proceedings of Congress, adopted 
the association, and appointed the committees rec- 
ommended. Hanover County, under the direction 
of Mr. Henry, led the way, appointing its commit- 
tee early in November.^ These committees, whose 
powers were undefined, assumed the functions of 
government in the confusion which soon followed, 
and became known as " Committees of Safety." 

The people continued their contributions to the 
brave Bostonians, who, with wonderful self-denial 
and firmness, stood for the liberties of America. In 
acknowledging one of these contributions, Samuel 
Adams wrote : * " Virginia made an early stand, by 
their ever memorable resolves of 1765, against the 
efforts of a corrupt administration to enslave Amer- 
ica, and has ever distinguished herself by her exer- 
tions in support of our common rights. The sister 
colonies struggled separately ; but the minister him- 
self has at length united them, and they have lately 
uttered language that will be heard. It is the fate 
of this town to drink deep of the cup of ministerial 
vengeance ; but while America bears them witness 
that they suffer in her cause, they glory in their 

Thus the attack upon the town of Boston and 
upon the colony of Massachusetts, which was in- 
tended by the Ministry to divide the colonies that 
they might be robbed of their rights, drew them 
into a close union, and made them unconquerable. 

1 A card in the WilliamBbiug Gazette, dated November 12, 1774, signed 
Paul Thilman, aalu pardon for Yiolating the association, for which he 
had been oonyicted bj the Hanover Committee. 

' Massaohnsetts Historical Collections, 4th Series, iv., 185. 


Congress, in their address to the people of Amer- 
ica, bad advised them "to extend their views to 
monniful events, and be in all respects prepared 
for every contingency." The people of Maasacha- 
setts had already commenced military preparations, 
and during the winter the other colonies began to or- 
ganize military companies, and to procure ammimi- 
tion. There was bat little division among the people 
except in New York and Oeoi^a. The New York 
Assembly refused to approve of the proceedings of 
Congress, corruptly influenced, it was believed, by 
British gold,' and it was only after a warm contest 
that the patriots carried the day in Georgia. 

In Virginia Mr. Henry enlisted the first military 
company after the adjournment of Congress. In a 
report of the next Assembly upon the condition of 
the colony it is stated, that a committee was ap- 
pointed, and a company enlisted, but not embodied, 
in Hanover in November. This was doubtless at 
the time the county committee was appointed. Mr. 
Henry's action as regards the company is related 
in a letter of Charles Dabney,* one of the members. 
He says : " Soon after Mr. Patrick Henry's return 
from the first Congress notice was given through his 
means to the militia of Hanover, to attend at Mr. 
Smith's tavern' in the neighborhood of Hanover 
Court House, where he wished to communicate some- 
thing to them of great importance. Accordingly a 
considerable number of the younger part of the 
militia attended, and he addressed them in a very 
animated speech, pointing out the necessity of our 

' HeniT JreUm to Hn. Qaluq', Uamoir of JoMti Qoinojr, Ji., p. 


* MS. letter to Hr. Wirt, December 9\, 180S. 
' Sow knovm u Hen7 Oaka. 


having recourse to arms in defence of our rights, 
and recommending in strong terms that we should 
immediately form ourselves into a volunteer com- 
pany. A number of those present immediately en- 
rolled themselves on the list ol volunteers, one of 
the regulations of which was, that when a sufficient 
number of men were enlisted to form a company, 
they should choose the officers to command them.^' 
This company was soon to attract the attention of 
the continent. 

In some other counties companies were enlisted, 
but the neirt Assembly declared in a report, based 
upon testimony taken before a committee, that on 
December 24, 1774, when the Governor wrote to 
Lord Dartmouth that " every county is now arming 
a company of men whom they call an independent 
company," there were not more than six or seven 
such companies throughout the whole colony. So 
unanimous were the people in signing and keeping 
the association that the committees had but little 
or no need of military aid, and the suspense of the 
colony as to the effect in England of the action of 
Congress, retarded preparations for war, which it 
was hoped would be avoided.* This hope was 
greatly weakened by the reception in February of 
the King's speech on opening Parliament, Novem- 
ber 30, in which he described the non-importation 
agreements entered into before the meeting of Con- 
gress, whose proceedings had not then reached Eng- 

1 Rives, in his Life of Madison, L, 65, oites statements of sereral letter 
writers, the Qovemor among them, to prove that before the meeting of 
the convention in March, and Mr. Henry's motion to arm the c(donj, 
there had been a military organisation in each connty, bnt the evidence 
taken by the Assembly (see American Archives, 4th Series, ii., 1211-15) 
proves tJie contrary. 


land, as " unwarrantable attempts to obstract the 
eommerce of this kingdom by unlawful combina- 
tions," and as exhibiting " a most daring spirit of 
resistance and disobedience to the law." The situa- 
tion in America is described in a letter of Richard 
Henry Lee to his brother Arthur, then in London, 
dated February 24, 1775.* He says : 

"All America has received with astonishment 
and concern the speech to Parliament The wicked 
violence of the ministry is so clearly expressed as 
to leave no doubt of Uieir fatal determination to 
rain both conntries, unless a powerful and timely 
check is interposed by the body of the people. A 
very small corrupted junto in New York excepted, 
all North America is now most firmly united and 
as firmly resolved, to defend their liberties, ad in- 
Jinit/um, against every power on earth, that may 
attempt to take them awav. The most efEectual 
measures are everywhere taking to secure a sacred 
observance of the association. Manufactures go 
rapidly on, and the means of repelling force by 
force are universally adopting." 

As stated in this letter, the only hope now enter- 
tained was that the body of the people of England 
would interpose an efEectual check upon the designs 
of the ministry. The proceedings of Congress 
reached England in December, during the recess of 
Parliament Their effect was marked. When Par- 
liament assembled again in January, there were laid 
before them petitions from London, Bristol, Nor- 
wich, Dudley, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, 
and Wolverhampton, representing the great distress 
occasioned by the interniption of the colonial com 

' See Sonttieni Llteiaiy Meweoger for Xovember, 1859. 


merce, and praying that such conciliatory legisla- 
tion be adopted as would restore it to its former 
condition. Not only did the interruption of trade 
interest the British merchants on behalf of Amer- 
ica, but the dignity and wisdom of Congress ex- 
cited an admiration for the American patriots never 
before felt in Great Britain, 

When the petition to the King was presented to 
. His Majesty, he received it very graciously, and 
promised to lay it before Parliament, but at a cabi- 
net council, held January 12, he insisted on yield- 
ing nothing to the colonies, and it was determined 
to interdict all commerce with them, to protect the 
loyal colonists, and to declare all others traitors and 
rebels.* On January 20, Lord Chatham moved in 
the House of Lords the withdrawal of the troops 
from Boston, and delivered his celebrated speech in 
its advocacy, but his motion was lost by a vote of 
68 to 18. The House of Commons showed a more 
decided majority in favor of the Ministry, and vig* 
orous measures were taken to enforce the subjec- 
tion of the colonies. In a bill introduced offering 
pardon to repentant rebels, Mr. Henry, with some 
twenty others, had the honor of being excepted by 


The second Virginia Convention met in St. John's 
Church, Richmond, March 20, 1775. They came 
together in ignorance of the proceedings in Parlia- 
ment upon the reception of the action of Congress. 
The latest information they had was contained in 
the Williamsburg Gazette of the 18 th, which printed 
a letter from London dated December 14, 1774, re- 
lating the gracious reception of the petition by the 

1 Banoroft» tU., 193. * Jeffenon*8 Memoir. 


Kiog, ftod adding, " The boas at court is that all the 
acts will be repealed exc^ the admiralty and de- 
claratory, and that N<Hth and Dartmonth will be 
replaced by Gowerand Hillsb<m>ngh." This revived 
the hopes of the more conservative of the patriots, 
who still tmsted that the Ministry woald retrace 
their footsteps and all would be well again. 

The Convention organized by electing Peyton 
Randolph president, and at once took into consider-, 
ation the proceedings of the Continental Congress. 
These they heartily approved. They next presented 
the thanks of the body and of the Colony to the 
Virginia delegation, "for their cheerfal undertak- 
ing and faithful discharge of the very important 
trust imposed in them," On the third day of the 
seasion a copy of the petition and memorial of the 
Assembly of the Island of Jamaica, addressed to 
the King, December 28, 1774, was laid before the 
convention and read.' This was a bold vindication 
of the rights of the American colonies, but was ob- 
jectionable in two of its positions. It traced the gi'ant 
of colonial rights to the King, and claimed that the 
royal prerogative annexed to the Crown was totally 
indepeadent of the people, who could not invade, 
add to, or diminish it. This extreme Tory doctrine 
was not to the liking of the advanced patriots, nor 
necessary for the vindication of American rights, 
which were not dependent on royal grants alone. 
Another matter contained in the paper, equally ob- 
jectionable, was the declaration of the Assembly, that 
owing to their weak condition, caused by slavery, it 
could not be supposed they intended, or ever could 
have intended, resistance to Great Biitain. The bal- 

■ Br« thlt papoi in AmerloM AioUtm, 4th S«riM, 1., 1079-74. 


jmee of tlie psper, liowevov was a severe rebuke 
to the &itish GoYcnuiienty and an able defeoce 
of America. This last pleased many members of 
the CoDTentioa and led them to overlook what was 
deemed objeetionahleL Acoordii^lj it was moved — 

^That the unfeigned thanks and most grateful ac- 
knowledgments of this Convention be presented to 
that very respectable Assembly, for the exceeding 
generous and affectionate part they have so nobly 
taken in the unhappy contest between Great Brit- 
ain and her colonies, and for their truly patriotic 
endeavors to fix the just claims of the colonists 
upon the most permanent constitutional principles. 

'^ That the Assembly be assured that it is the most 
ardent wish of this colony (and we are persuaded 
of the whole continent of North America) to see a 
speedy return to those halcyon days when we lived 
a free and happy people. 

'* That the President be desired to transmit these 
resolutions to the Speaker of the Jamaica Assembly 
by the earliest opportunity," 

These resolutions were not suited to the views of 
Mr. Henry. He could but unite in the vote of 
thanks for "their tmly patriotic endeavors to fix 
the just claims of the colonists upon the most per- 
manent constitutional principles," but he could not 
agree with the toryism and non-resistance contained 
in the paper. He was certain that there would be 
no real change of policy in England, and that the 
colonies would never see a return of the *' halcyon 
days " of old. He saw, too, the danger of exciting 
in the colony any such hope, when no time should be 
lost in arming for the approaching conflict. He 
realized the fact that the independent volunteer 


ecnnpaniaa, raised in different parts of the oolony, 
could not be relied on for sostained effort^ unless 
they were made a part of a colonial armj, and that 
any preparation for war, to be efficient mnst be or- 
ganised and controlled nnder the anthcmty of the 
oolcmy. His clear Tision had jneroed into the fat- 
ore, and he now saw that the hoar of oonfliet in the 
field was at hand. Not a moment was to be lost 
He at once arose and offered as an amendment the 
following resolutions : 

, "Seaolvad, That a well r^;Dlated militia, com- 
posed of gentlemen and yeomen, is the natural 
strengtii and ooly security of a bee government ; 
that such a militia in this colony would for ever 
render it unnecessary for the mother country to keep 
among us, for the purpose of our defence, any stana- 
ing army of mercenary soldiers, always Bubversive 
of the quiet, and dangerous to the liberties of the 
people, and would obviate the pretext of tazii^ us 
for their support 

"That the establishment of such a mUitia is, at 
this time, peculiarly necessary, by the state of our 
laws for the protection and defence of the country, 
some of which have already expired, and others 
will shortly be so ; and that the known remiss- 
ness of the government in calling ns together 
in legislative capacity, renders it too insecure, 
in this time of danger and distress, to rely that 
opportunity will be given of renewing them, in 
general assemblj^, or TnoMag any provision to 
eeffwre our inestimable rights and Uberdea, from 
those fwr^wr violatioTis with which they are threat- 

" Resolved, therefore, That this colony be immedi- 
ately j>ut into a state of defence, and that 
be a cormtUttee to prepare a plan for embodying, 


a/rmmg^ cmd disciplining such a nurnher of men^ as 
may he sufficient for that pv/rpose^ 

The fii*8t of these was taken from a resolution of 
the Maryland Convention of December 8, 177V 
which had been followed by the Fairfax County 
committee, January 17, 1776, in a paper drawn by 
George Mason and presented by George Washing- 
ton,' and had been preceded by the New Castle 
(Delaware) committee December 21, 1774,* which 
based its action on "an intimation given by the 
Continental Congress." And other bodies had de- 
termined on arming and drilling the militia under 
their control. But the second resolution of Mr. 
Henry looked to an immediate preparation for a 
cpnflict of arms ; not simply to the drilling of the 
militia, but to the .embodying of an army for 
the defence of the Colony. The resolution itself 
clearly disclosed its object, and Mr. Henry, in his 
speech enforcing it, left no doubt of his purpose. 
He would have the Convention, with him, give up 
all hope of a peaceful settlement, and recognize the 
fact that they were virtually at war with Great 

Judge Tucker, who was present, relates that " this 
resolution produced an animated debate, in which 
Col. RichMxi Bland, Mr. Nicholas, the treasurer, 
and I think Col. Harrison, of Berkeley, and Mr. 
Pendleton were opposed to the resolution, conceiv- 
ing it to be premature." 

Notwithstanding * the fact that no information 
had been received of the action of the Government 

1 ijnerioan Arohiyes, 4th Series, L, 1032. * Idem, 1145. 

> Idem, 1029. « Tylez's Life of Patrick Heniy, 128. 



upon the papers issued by the Congress, and the 
earnest opposition of so many of his able associates 
in the patriot cause, who hesitated upon the thresh- 
old of war, and still hoped for reconciliation, his 
resolutions were carried. 

The memorable scene which occurred is thus de- 
scribed by Edmund Randolph in his history of Vir- 
ginia : * 

" A resolution was passed for immediately put- 
ting the colony into a posture of defence, and for 
preparing a plan of embodying and disciplining such 
a number of men as might be sufficient for that pur- 
pose, Henry moved and Ricliard Henry Lee sec- 
onded it. The fangs of European criticism nought 
be challenged to spread themselves against the elo- 
quence of that awful day. It was a proud one to 
a Virginian, feeling and acting with nis country. 
Demosthenes invigorated the timid, and Cicero 
charmed the backward. The multitude, many of 
whom had travelled to the Convention from a dis- 
tance, could not suppress their emotion. Henry 
was his pure self. Those who had toiled in the ar- 
tifices of scholastic rhetoric, were involuntarily driv- 
en into an inquiry within themselves, whether rules 
and forms and niceties of elocution would not have 
choked his native fire. It blazed so as to warm the 
coldest heart. In the sacred place of meetings the 
church, the imagination had no difficulty, to con- 
ceive, when he launched forth in solemn tones^ va- 
rious causes of scruples against oppressors, that the 
British King was lying prostrate irom the thunder 
of heaven. Heniy was thought in his attitude to 
resemble St. Paul, while preaching at Athens, and 
to speak as man was never known to speak before. 
After every illusion had vanished, a prodigy yet 

1 MS. in posseBsion of Viiginia Hiatorical Society, 


remained. It was Patrick Henry, bom in obscu- 
rity, poor, and without the advantages of literature, 
rousing the genius of his country, and binding a 
band ra patriots together to hurl defiance at the tyr- 
anny of so formidable a nation as Great Britain. 
This enchantment was spontaneous obedience to the 
working of the soul. When he uttered what com- 
manded respect for himself, he solicited no admiring 
look from those who surrounded hiuL K he had^ 
lie must have been abashed by meeting every eye 
fixed upon him. He paused, but he Paused full of 
m>nie rising eruption of eloquence. When he sat 
tlown, his sounas vibrated so loudly if not in tibe 
oans at least in the memory of his audience, tliat 
no otiier member, not even his friend who was to 
mHH>nd him, was yet adventurous enough to inter- 
fViv with that voice which had so recenuy siubdued 
i%ud captivated. After a few minutes, Richard 
lli^nry Lee fanned and refreshed with a gale of 
plt^Mur^ ; but the vessel of the revolutioii was sdD 
\u\dor tho impulse of the tempest, which Heniy liad 
oit^aUni Artifioial oratory fell in oopioos 
f t\uu tht> UKHith of Lee, and rales of persuaflioii 
tHunpHs^itHl f^v^nrthing^ which rules could effieet If 
olt^^auof^ had be^n personified, Uie p»soQ of Lee 
xv\mK) hax^ l^eeu ohoeen. But Houy trampled 
U)HM\ ru)<^ ami y^t triumphed, at this time perhaps 
Im^n^mh) hi$ own expeetatioQ. Jeffiorsoa was mit 9- 
l^nn Ho argtun) cl<^y, profoondly and waimfy 
on tW ^Mono ^h)«. Hie post in this rerofaitiouaty 
«)i(^)viit^ WK^j^vur to him. was that at whidk mt 
th<s^^ of repulKlicuitsm wen dej^MitedL Wash- 
inj;;tK^n w;fi;^ p^Mmiimftt^ tlio«b^ skat, ffia leols 
l^c^pok^ a miihi a)>^>rt!»ed in meditaiioii <ni Ui 
tJTv « fati^ : bot a pc^tive oMioert Wlnw a ^ 
HfMT <yvDiM w^>t moi^ effetcmallr ka^(^ «iUhitod 
ti> Tiew. thjoD wheal HeuT^wit^ mj^ mrt asa 
led the idea of peace ^^ii^ieai iImr wm bo 


peace,' and enlarged on the dnty of preparing for 

"The generooB and noble-minded Thomas Nelson, 
who now for the first time took a more than com- 
mon part in a great discussion, convulsed the mod- 
erate by an ardent ezclamatioQ, in which he called 
Gt>d to witness, that if any British troops should 
be landed within the coun^ of which he was the 
lieutenant, he would wait for no orders, and wonld 
obey none which ahoald forbid him, to summon his 
militia and repel the invaders at the water edge. 
His temper, though it was sanguine, and had been 
manifested in less scenes of opposition, seemed to be 
more than ordinarily ezcitra. His example told 
those who were happy in ease and wealth, that to 
shrink was to be dishonored." 

As Thomas Nelson was one of the wealthiest 
men in the colony, his accession to Mr. Henry on 
this occasion was very effective in its influence on 
the wealthy class, always slow to engage in war. 

Mr. "Wirt has been able to give a condenBed ac- 
count of Mr. Henry's speech, gathered from the 
recollections of the hearers, principally from Judge 
John Tyler and Judge St. George Tucker. He says : 

" He rose at this time with a majesty unusual to 
him in an exordium, and with all that Belf-posses- 
sion by which he was so invariably distinguished. 
' No man,' he said, ' thought more highly than he 
did of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the 
very worthy gentlemen who had just addressed the 
house. But different men often saw the same sub- 
ject in different lights ; and therefore, he hoped it 
would not be thought disrespectful to those gentle- 
men, if, entertaining, as he did, opinions of a cbar- 
acter very opposite to theirs, he should speak forth 


his sentiments freely, and without reserva This,' 
he said, * was no time for ceremony. The question 
before the house was one of awful moment to this 
country. For his own part, he considered it as 
nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery. 
And in proportion to the mi^nitude of the subject, 
ought to be the freedom of debate. It was only in 
this way that they could hope to arrive at truth, 
and fulnl the great responsibility which they held to 
Ood and their country. Should he keep back his 
opinions at such a time, 'through fear of giving 
ofEense, he should consider himself guilty of trea- 
son toward his country, and of an act of disloyalty 
toward the majesty of Heaven, which he revered 
above all earthly kings. 

** * Mr. President,' said he, ^ it is natural to man to 
indulge in the illusions of hope. We ai'e apt to shut 
our eyes against a painful truth — and listen to the 
son^ of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts. 
Is tnis,' he asked, ' the part of wise men, ei^aged in 
a great and arduous straggle for liberty? Were 
we disposed to be of the number of those, who hav- 
ing eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the 
things which so nearly concern their temporal sal- 
vation ? For his part, whatever anguish of spirit it 
might cost, he was willing to know the whole 
truth ; to know the worst, and to provide for it. 

" * He had,' he said, * but one lamp by which his 
feet were guided ; and that was the lamp of expe- 
rience. He knew of no way of judging the future 
but by the past. And judging by tne past, he 
wished to know what there had been in the conduct 
of the British ministiy for the last ten yeai*s, to jus- 
tify those hopes with which gentlemen had been 
pleased to solace themselves and the house ? Is it 
that insidious smile with which our petition has 
been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will 
prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves 



to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yonrselves how 
this gracioQS reception of our petition comporta 
with those warlike preparations which cover our 
waters and darken oor land. Are fleets and 
armies necessary to a work of love and recon- 
ciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling 
to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win 
back our love 1 Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. 
These are the implements of war and subjugation — 
the last ai^uments to which kings resort. I aak gen- 
tlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its pur- 
pose be not to force us to submission ? Can gentle- 
men assign any other possible motive for it ? Has 
Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the 
world, to call for all this accumulation of navies 
and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are 
meant for ns : they can be meant for no other. 
They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those 
chains, which the British ministry have been so long 
forging. And what have we to oppose to them ? ' 
Shall we try argument ? Sir, we have been trying 
that for the last ten years. Have we anything new 
to offer upon the subject ? Nothing. We have held 
the subject up in every light of which it is capable ; 
but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to en- 
treaty and humble supplication ? What terms shall 
we find, which have not been already exhausted? 
I^et us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves 
longer. Sir, we have done everything that could 
be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. 
We have petitioned — we have remonstrated — we 
have supplicated — we have prostrated ourselves be- 
fore the throne, and have implored its interposition 
to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and 
parliament. Our petitions have been slighted ; our 
remonstrances have produced additional violence 
and insult; our supplications have been disre- 
garded ; and we have been spumed, with contempt, 


from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these 
things, maj we indulge the fond hope of peace 
and reconciliation. Tnere is no longer any room 
for hope. If we wish to be free — ^if we mean to 
preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for 
which we have been so long contending — ^if we 
mean not basely to abandon the noble stm^le in 
which we have been so long engaged, and which we 
have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the 
glorious object of our contest shall be obtained — ^we 
must fight ! — ^I repeat it, sir, we must fight ! ! An 
appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts, is all that 

Up to this point the orator exhibited perfect 
self-restraint Judge Tucker's letter giving l^e pas- 
sages included in the last two paragraphs, prefaced 
them by the statement : 

'^ ^ It was on that occasion that I first felt a full 
impression of Mr, Henry's powers. In vain should 
I attenipt to give you any idea of his speech. He 
was calm and collected — ^touched upon the origin 
and progress of the dispute between Great Britam, 
and the colonies — ^the various conciliatory measures 
adopted by the latter, and the uniformly increasing 
tone of violence and arrogance on the part of the 
former.' " 

He follows the passages by the following de- 
scription of the scene. 

" * Ima^ne to yourself this speech delivered with 
all the cium dignity of Gato of Utica ; imagine to 
yourself the Roman Senate assembled in the capital 
when it was entered bv the profane Gauls, who at 
first were awed by their presence as if they had en- 



tared an assembly o£ the gods, jbu^ne that -ron. 
had heard that Oato addreMong sach a Senate. Im- 
agine tiiat Ton saw the handwriting on the wall of 
^Ishaasar s palace. Imagine that yon had heard 
a voice as from heaven uttering the words, " Wis 
must^ht," as the'l^oom of Kate, and jon may have 
some idea of the speaker, the assembly to whom he 
addreeeed himself and the auditory, ta whidk I was 

From this p9int, however, the orator's i 
deepened into an intensity of passion and dramatic 
power which were overwhelming. JSe thus contin- 

" * They tell us, sir, that we are weak — unable to 
cope with ao formidable an adversary. But when 
shall we be stronger ) Will it be the next week, 
or the next year ? Will it be when we are totally 
disarmed, and when a British guard shall be sta- 
tioned in every house 3 Shall we gather strength 
by irresolution and inaction! Shall we acquire 
the means of effectual resistance by lying supmely 
on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of 
Hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand 
and foot! Sir, we are not weak, if we make a 
iroper use of those means which the 6od of nature 
lath placed in our power. Three millions of people, 
armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a 
country as that which we possess, are invincible by 
any force which our enemy can send against as. 
Besides, sir, we shall not £^ht our batfles alone. 
There is a just God who presides over the destinies 
of nations ; and who will raise ap friends to fight 
our battles for as. The battle, sir, is not to the 
strong alone ; it is to the vigUant, the active, the 
brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we 
were base enough to denre it, it is now too late to 



retire from the contest There is no retreat, but 
in submission and slavery ! Our chains are forced, 
their clanking may be heard on the plains of Bos- 
ton ! The war is inevitable — and let it come ! ! I 
repeat it, sir, let it come I ! ! ; 

" * It is in vain, sir, to extenuated the matter. Gen- 
tlemen may cry, peace, peace, — but there is no peace. 
The war is actually begun ! The next gale that 
sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the 
clash of resounding arms ! Our brethren are al- 
ready in the field ! Why stand we here idle ? What 
is it that gentlemen wish ? what would they have ? 
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased 
at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it. 
Almighty God! I know not what course others 
may take ; but as for me,' cried he, with both his 
arms extended aloft, his brows knit, every feature 
marked with the resolute purpose of his soul, and 
his voice swelled to its boldest note of exclama- 
tion — ^ give me liberty, or give me death ! ' " 

ITiis report of this wonderful speech, which has 
been so greatly admired, and has been treasured in 
the memory of so many American youths, has not 
passed without challenge. It is most gratifjdng, 
however, to find so judicious and careful a writer 
as Dr. Moses Coit Tyler coming to the conclusion, 
after examining the evidence, that " Wirt's version 
certainly gives the substance of the speech as actu- 
ally made by Patrick Henry ; and for the form of it 
• . . it is probably far more accurate and authen- 
tic than are most of the famous speeches attributed 
to public characters before reporters' galleries were 
opened, and before the art of reporting was brought 
to its present perfection." ^ 

> Tyier*! Life of Patriok Hexuy, 188. 


Dr. Tyler states, on the authority of a manuscript 
of Rev. Edward Fontaine, *' that John Roane, in 
1834, veriiied the correctness of the speech as it was 
written by Judge Tyler for Mr. Wirt" To this 
may be added, that among the papers of Mr. "Wirt, 
sent the author by his son, Dr. William Wirt, are 
found some imsigned notes on his Life of Mr. 
Henry, written by one who states that he was pres- 
ent in this convention. While he criticises in some 
respects Mr. Wirt's statement of the arguments used 
by the opponents of Mr. Henry's motion, he has 
not a word to say in reference to Mr. Wirt's re- 
port of Mr. Henry's speech, and thus bears testi- 
mony to its correctness. The same may be said of 
Mr, Jefferson, who revised Mr, Wirt's manuscript 
and advised its publication.^ So deeply had this 
speech impressed itself on the minds of the hearers 
that wherever Mr. Wirt found one living he was 
enabled to gather some part of it This is shown 
by the traditional descriptions of it which have 
come down through other sources, Mr. Henry Ste- 
phens Randal], in bis " Life of Jefferson," has pre- 
served one of these traditions, related to him by 
a clergyman who received it from an old Baptist 
clergyman who was one of the auditory. He de- 
scribed the Convention as terribly intent on the sub* 
ject before them. He said : 

" Henry arose with an unearthly fire burning in 
his eye. He commenced somewhat calmly — but the 
smothered excitement began more and more to play 
upon his features and tbi-ill in the tones of his voice. 
The tendons of his neck stood out white and rigid 

< Kennedj'a Life of William Witt, L, 418. 


like whipcords. His voice rose louder and louder, 
until the walls of the building and all within them 
seemed to shake and rock in its tremendous vibra- 
tions. Finally his pale face and glaring eyes became 
terrible to look upon. Men leaned forward in their 
seats with their heads strained f orward, their faces 

{>ale and their eyes glaring like the speaker^s. His 
ast exclamation — *Give me liberty or give me 
death' — was like the shout of the leader which 
turns back the rout of battle I The old clergyman 
said, when Mr. Henry sat down, he (the auditor) 
felt sick with excitement. Every eve yet gazed en- 
tranced on Henry. It seemed as if a word from 
him would have led to any wild explosion of vio- 
lence. Men looked beside themselves." * 

Another tradition is found in the Fontaine manu- 
script, quoted by Dr. Tyler, which is stated to have 
been taken from John Roane, who heard the speech. 
Roane told Fontaine that the orator's voice, coun- 
tenance, and gestures gave irresistible force to his 
words, which no description could make intelligible 
to one who had never seen him or heard him speak ; 
but in order to convey some notion of the orator's 
manner, Roane described the delivery of the closing 
sentences of the speech : 

" You remember, sir, the conclusion of the speech, 
so often declaimed in various ways by school-boys — 
^ Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased 
at the price of chains and slavery ? Forbid it, Al- 
mighlr God ! I know not what course others may 
take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me 
death ! ' He gave each of these words a meanin 
which is not conveyed by the reading or delivery o 
them in the ordinary way. When he said, * Is life 

> BandaU*! Life of JefEenon, 1, 101-8. 




80 dear, or peace so sweet, as to be pnrchaaed at the 
price of chains and slavery 9 * he stood in the atti- 
tude of a condemned galler slave, loaded with let' 
ters, awaiting his doom. His form was bowed ; his 
wrists were crossed ; his manacles were almost ris- 
ible as he stood like an .embodiment of helplessness 
and agony. After a solemn pause, he raised his 
eyes and chained hands toward heaven, and prayed, 
in words and tones which thrilled every heart * For- 
bid it, Almighty Gk>dl' He then tnmed toward 
the timid loyalists of the house, who were qnaking 
with terror at the idea of the consequences of par- 
ticipating in proceedings which would be visited 
with the penalties of treason by the British crown ; 
and he slowly bent his form yet nearer to the earth, 
and said, 'I know not what course others may take,' 
and he accompanied the words with his hands still 
crossed, while he seemed to be weighed down with 
additional chains. The man appeared transformed 
into an oppressed, heart-broken, and hopeless felon. 
After remaining in this poatore of humiliation long 
enough to impi-ess the imagination with the condi* 
. tion of the colony under the iron heel of military 
despotism, he arose proudly, and exclaimed, ' but as 
for me,* — and the words hissed through his clenched 
teeth, while his body was thrown back, and every 
muscle and tendon was strained against the fetten 
which bound him, and with his countenance dis- 
torted by agony and rage, he looked for a moment 
like Laocoon in a death strumle with coUing ser- 
pents ; then the loud, clear, triumphant notes, * give 
me liberty,' electrified the assembly. It was not a 
prayer, but a stem demand, which would submit to 
no refusal or delay. The sound of his voice, as be 
spoke these memorable words, was like that of a 
Spartan psean on the field of Platsea ; and, as each 
syllable of the word ' liberty ' echoed through the 
bnilding, his fetters were shivered ; his arms were 


hurled apart ; and the links of his chains were scat- 
tered to the winds. When he spoke the word * lib- 
erty ' with an emphasis never given it before, his 
hands were open, and his arms elevated and extend- 
ed ; his countenance was radiant ; he stood erect and 
defiant ; while the sound of his voice and the sub- 
limity of his attitude made him appear a magnificent 
incarnation of Freedom, and expressed all that can 
be acquired or enjoyed by nations and individuals 
invincible and free. After a momentarv pause, only 
long enough to permit the echo of the word * lib- 
erty ' to cease, he let his left hand fall powerless to 
his side, and clenched his ri^ht hand firmly, as if 
holding a dagger with the point aimed at his breast 
He stood like a Roman Senator defying Csdsar, 
while the unconquerable spirit of Cato of Utica 
flashed from every feature ; and he closed the grand 
ap{>eal with the solemn words * or give me death ! ' 
which sounded with the awful cadence of a heroes 
dirge, fearless of death, and victorious in death ; and 
he suited the action to the word by a blow upon the 
left breast with the right hand which seemed to 
drive the dagger to the patriot's heart" ^ 

It is related of Colonel Edward Oarrington, a 
distinguished soldier in the Revolution, that being 
in the crowd on the outside, he gained a position at 
the more northern of the two windows then in the 
east end of the church. Here he was nearly facing 
Mr. Henry. He was completely overpowered by 
the orator, and exclaimed, ^^ Let me be buried at 
this spot ! " This wish lasted during his life, and 
was respected at his death in 1810. 

From these accounts of the speech, one can well 
understand that Thomas Marshall gave utterance to 

1 Tyler'i Life of Patriok Henzj, 129-182. 


tilie muudtnoas Terdiot of all who heard it, when be 
described it " as one of the most bold, vehement, 
and animated {neces of eloquence that had ever been 
delivered." * 

The oommittee that was appointed under Mr, 
Henry's resolutions consisted of Patrick Henry, 
Richard Henry Lee, Robert Garter Nicholas, Beur 
jamin Harrison, Lemuel Riddick, Geoi^ Washing- 
ton, Adam Stephen, Andrew Lewis, William Chris- 
tian, Edmund Pendleton, Thomas Jefferson, and 
Isaac Lane. 

The appearance of Nicholas, Harrison, and Pen- 
dleton on the committee is an indication how thor- 
oughly Mr. Henry had carried the Convention, cap- 
turing even the principal of his opponents. Indeed, 
Colonel Nicholas, as soon as he found that the Con* 
vention was determined to arm and embody the mili- 
tia, moved to change the system, and raise ten thou- 
sand regulars for. the war, which was lost' Mr. 
Jefferson, in describing to Mr. Wirt the opponents 
of Mr. Henry's motion said : 

" These were honest and able men, who had be- 
gun the opposition, on the same ground, but with a 
moderation more adapted to their ^e and experi- 
ence. Subsequent events favored the bolder spirits 
of Henry, the Lees, P^es, Mason, etc., with whom 
I went in all points. Sensible, however, of the im- 
portance of unanimity among our constituents, al- 
though we often wished to have gone on faster, we 
slackened our pace, that our less ardent colleagues 
might keep up with us; and they, on their part, 
differing nothing from us in principle, quickened 

■ Wiifi H«JU7, 14S. Ho WM tlM tkttm ol the Chief JmUoa, and a 
man of gnat foioa of Intallaob * Wlzft Eanij, 148. 


their gait somewliat beyond that which pmdence 
might of itself, have advised, and thus consolidated 
the phalanx which breasted the powers of Great 
Britain. By this harmony of the bold with the 
cautious, we advanced, witn our constituents, in un- 
divided mass, and with fewer examples of separa- 
tion than perhaps existed in any other part of the 
union." * 

On this memorable occasion Mr. Henry had taken 
a decisive step forward, and had consolidated the 
ranks of the patriots as his followers. He had led 
the Virginia Convention across the Rubicon, and in 
preparing the colony for military resistance he had 
pledged her to inevitable war. 

The wisdom of Mr. Henry's motion was demon- 
strated by the events which had already happened in 
England, though not yet known in America. The 
House of Lords had not only voted down, in Janu- 
ary, Lord Chatham's motion to withdraw the troops 
from Boston, but when, nothing daunted, he intro- 
duced on February 1, his bill for settling the troubles 
in America, which involved a repeal of the obnoxious 
Acts of Parliament, and a free grant of revenue by 
the colonies, accompanied with an acknowledgment 
of the supremacy of Parliament, it was dismissed 
after a warm debate by a vote of 61 to 32. On 
February 2, an address to the King was moved in 
the House of Commons, in which it was declared, 
that ^^ a rebellion at this time actually exists in the 
province of Massachusetts Bay.^' In the debate 
which preceded its adoption, it was claimed by 
Colonel Grant, who had served in America, that the 
Americans " would not fight, they would never dare 

1 Wirt's Heniy, 148^ 



face an EngliBh army, and did not possess any of the 
qoaljficationa necessary to make a good soldier," and 
the speaker ridiculed their manniers, their laoga^e, 
and their religion.^ On Febniary 10, leave was 
given to bring in a bill for the restraint .of the trade 
and commerce of the New England colonies. On 
February 18, and 15, measures were adopted in 
the House, sitting as a Committee of Supply, for 
the augmentation of the army and navy. On 
February SO, Lord North unexpectedly introduced 
his scheme for conciliating America, wMch provided 
for permitting the colonies to raise in their own way 
the revenue which might be required of them by 
the King and Parliament, but looked to the continn- 
ance of all the obnoxious legislation and claims of 
Parliament.' This proposal was confessed by its 
author to be one which would not be satisfactory to 
America, but he expected that it would divide the 
colonies, and would unite England. Fox denounced 
the proposal, and declared that " the Americans will 
reject it with disdain." Burke declared, " the meas- 
ure was mean indeed, yet not at all conciliatory." 
Chatham wrote : ' "It is a mere verbiage, a most 
puei-ile mockery. Everything but justice will prove 
vain to men like the Americans; with principles 
of right in their minds and hearts, and with arms 
in their hands to assert those principlea" 

On March 23, the day before Mr. Henry made 
his motion for arming the colmiy of Vii^inia, Burke 
introduced his resolutions for repealing the ob- 
noxious legislation of Parliament, and made that 
magnificent epeech in their support which alone 

> PBTli>meDt(U7 HMotj. zrlil., 836. • Idon, nW^ 334. 

■ Omntpou&tiaM, h., 403. 


would have placed him among the great orators 
and statesmen of the world, but which fell tmheeded 
on the ears of the overwhelming majority which 
supported the Ministry. 

Though acting in ignorance of these proceedings, 
the Virginia Convention, under the lead of Mr. 
Henry, could hardly have acted more wisely had 
they been fully aware of them. They adopted an 
effective plan for arming and equipping the militia 
of the colony, which were requested to form volun- 
teer companies in each county, the lower counties, 
cavalry companies, and the upper counties, infantry ; 
and a committee was appointed to procure the nec- 
essary munitions of war for destitute counties. A 
plan was adopted for the encouragement of arts and 
manufactures, reported by a committee of which 
Mr. Henry was a member. A continuance of con- 
tributions for the relief of Boston was recommended ; 
the Committee of Correspondence was directed to 
procure authentic infoi*mation whether New York 
meant to desert the union of the colonies; the 
old delegation was reappointed for the next Con- 
gress, Mr. Henry being placed next to Washington 
on it, and Jefferson being added as the alternate of 
Peyton Randolph, the Speaker of the House of Bur- 
gesses; thanks were voted to the Governor and 
soldiers engaged in the late Indian War, and a 
promise given the latter that their services should 
be remunerated. 

Mr. Henry, ever watchful of Royal power, and 
quick to see the evil of keeping a number of men in 
the colony dependants upon the Crown, offered the 
following paper, which was adopted, and himself, 
Richard Bland, Thomas Jefferaon, Robert Carter 


Nicholas, and Edmtmd Pendleton were appointed 
the committee. 

"His Excellency, the Governor, having by procla- 
mation bearing date the 2lBt day of March, m the 
S resent year, declared that his Majesty hath given or- 
ers, that all vacant lands within this colony shall 
be pat up in lots at public sale, and t^at the highest 
bidder for such lots shall be the purchaser thereof, 
and shall hold the same, subject to a reservation of 
one half-penny sterling per acre, by way of annual 
quit-rent, and all mines of gold, silver, and precious 
stones; which terms are an innovation on the estab- 
lished usage of granting lands within this colony. 

Mesolvedf That a committee be appointed to in- 
quire whether his Majesty may, ox right, advance 
the terms of granting lands in this colony, and 
make I'eport thereof to the next General Assembly, 
or Convention ; and that in the meantime, it be rec- 
ommended to all persons whatever to forbear pur- 
chasing, or acceptiog grants of lands on the condi- 
tions before mentioned." 

The body adjourned Mai"ch 27, after recommend- 
ing to the people that they choose delegates to rep- 
resent them in Convention for one year. On the 
next day there appeared a proclamation from the 
Governor, forbidding, in the name of the King, the 
appointment of delegates to the Continental Con- 
gress. This untimely paper only excited contempt 
for the Administration. 

St John's Church, in which this memorable Con- 
vention sat, is still standing, and is an object of the 
greatest interest. Thousands visit it every year, 
and are shown the spot on which Mr. Henry stood 
when he delivered his famoos speech. 





GRESS.— 1775. 

Seiznre of the Ghinpowder at Williamsbiirg by Gk>Ternor Dnn- 
more. — ^March of Mr. Henry at the Head of the Hanoyer Yolim- 
teers to Obtain Satisfaction. — ^Payment Made to Him by Order 
of the Gk>Temor. — Proclamation of the Gtovemor Against Him. 
— ^He is Condemned by the Council, bnt Applauded by the 
People in Connty Meetings. — TLib Letter to Francis L. Lee on 
the Subject. — ^He is Escorted Across the Potomac on His Way 
to Congress. — Mr. Henry Looking to Independence. — Cong^ress 
of 1775. — New Members. — DifScnlties Besetting It. — Deter- 
mines to Act on Defensive. — ^Rejects Lord North's Proposals. 
— Determines to Fortify the Hudson and Adopt the Army be- 
fore Boston. — ^Washington made Commander-in-Chief. — Other 
Officers. — ^Measures of Congress. — ^Papers Issued. — ^Mr. Henry 
as a Committee Man.— His Letter to General Washington. 

The spirit which Mr. Henry infused into the Con- 
vention was soon aroused throughout the colony, 
by an event which was seized upon by him and 
made the occasion of a military demonstration 
against the Governor, the first overt act of war in 

On October 19, 1774, Lord Dartmouth, in a cir- 
cular letter to the Colonial Governors, informed 
them that the King, by an order in Council, had pro- 
hibited the exportation from Great Britain of gun- 
powder, or any sort of arms or ammunition, and his 
Lordship required the Governors to prevent the im- 
portation of the prohibited articles into the several 
colonies.^ Not content with preventing the pur- 

* American Archiyes, 4tb Series, i., 881. 


chase by the colonies of the miinitiona of war, the 
next move was to seize and carry away, or destroy, 
the ammunitioD already in their possession. Ac- 
cordingly General Gage sent an expedition, April 
18, 1775, to destroy the military stores collected at 
the town of Concord for the Colony of Massachu- 
setts, which brought on the battle of Lexington ; 
and Lord Dunmore, on April 20, caused Captain 
Henry Collins, commanding the schooner Magdalen 
lying at Burwell's Ferry on James River, to 
carry away during the night twenty kegs of powder 
stored in ihe public magazine at Williamsburg, and 
put it upon his vessel. When this became known in 
the town early the next morning it caused intense 
excitement and great exasperation. Many persons 
armed themselves, declaring their determination to 
force Captain Collins to restore the powder. They 
were restrained with difficulty by the older and 
cooler citizens, and by the Town Council, and were 
assured that proper measures would be taken to ef- 
fect a restoration of the powder without bloodshed. 
The Council thereupon addressed the Governor a 
respectful communication, stating that the powder 
had been stored in the magazine for the protection 
and security of the colony, that there was reason 
to believe that some wicked and designing persons 
had instilled the most diabolical notions into the 
minds of the slaves, which might lead to servile in- 
surrection, inquiring why the powder had been car- 
ried ofE in such a manner, and entreating that it 
be immediately returned. To this the Governor re- 
turned a verbal answer, " that hearing of an insur- 
rection in a neighboring county,' he had removed 

' A false report bom tbe Coon^ ot Sony, 


the powder from the magazine, where he did not 
think it secure, to a place of perfect security ; and 
that upon his word and honour, whenever it was 
wanted on any ineurrection, it should be deliv- 
ered in half an hour; that he had removed it 
in the night time, to prevent alarm, and that Cap- 
tain Collina had his express command for the part 
he had acted ; that he was surprised to hear that 
the people were under arms on this occasion, and 
that he should not think it prudent to put powder 
into their hands in such a situation." This disin- 
genuous reply was accepted as a promise to return 
the powder in ease it was needed, and through 
the exertions of Peyton Randolph, Robert C. 
Nicholas, and other citizens of influence, the peo- 
ple were quieted. The next day the Governor 
sent word to the gentlemen who had thus exerted 
theoiselvea to quiet the people, that if any injury 
or insult was offered to himself, to Captain Foy, 
his aecretaiy, or to Captain Collins, he would 
declare freedom to the slaves, and reduce the city 
of Williamsburg to ashes. This bluster was par- 
ticularly exasperating, as both Foy and Collins had 
constantly appeared in Williamsburg without the 
slightest diBi-eBpect having been shown them. In- 
formation of these matters spread rapidly through 
the colony, and aroused the people to a high pitch 
of excitement. 

A large body of men from the surrounding coun- 
ties met at Fredericksburg with arms in their hands, 
and, CD the summons of Mr. Henry, the Hanover 
Volunteers and the County Committee met at New 
Castle. These assemblies sent messengers to Will- 
iamsburg, who arrived on the 26th, offering assist- 


ance. They w^a informed that everything was 
quiet, and brought back letters next day from 
Peyton Randolph, on behalf of the corporation, 
stating that the Oovemor's honor was pledged to 
retom the gnnpowder, though he had not fixed 
the time, deploring a conflict of anna, and advising 
that matters be quieted for the present* The men 
at Fredmcksbnrg had sought the advice oi Colo- 
nel Washington, and he seems to have advised 
against marching to 'Williamsbarg.* They there- 
upon dispersed after adopting very strong reso- 
lutions. In the meanwhile, news of the attack by 
the Britiah troops at Concord and of the battle <^ 
Lexington reached Virginia, and was published in a 
supplement to the Virginia OazeUe of April 99. 
Mr. Henry now could have no doubt as to the de- 
sign of the Ministry, and he determined to strike a 
blow at once which would encourage the people, 
and would teach the Government the temper of the 
patriots. Indeed, when Mr. Henry was informed 
of the act of Dunmore he at once determined to use 
it to advance the patriot cause, and on his way to 
meet the County Committee he said to his friends, 
" that it was a fortunate cii>cumstance which would 
arouse the people from North to South. Tou may 
in vain mention to them the duties upon tea, etc. 
These things, they will say, do not affect them. 
But tell them of ^e robbery of the magazine, and 
that the next step will be to disarm them, and they 
will be then ready to fly to ai-ms to defend them- 
selves."' Having obtained the sanction of the 

' Sontheni Literal/ MeBengsi for JnJy, 1898, p. 36. 
' Spukj^B WuhiDgton. U., 607-0. 

* Thii WM Mid to Ulohftrd HoitU ftnd G«oiKa Dmlmey, two«t tiwOom- 
mittee, the Utter ol whom npottad It to Ur. Wirt 


County Committee for his enterprise, on May 2, he 
addressed the volunteers assembled at New Castle 
in an eloquent speech, the heads of which are given 
by Mr. Wirt, as follows : 

^^ He laid open the plan on which the British 
Ministry had fallen to reduce the colonies to subjec- 
tion, by robbing them of all the means of defend- 
ing their rights, spread before their eyes, in colours 
of vivid description, the fields of Lexington and 
Concord, still floating with the blood of their coun- 
trymen, gloriously shed in the general cause ; showed 
them that the recent plunder of the magazine in 
Williamsburg was nothing more than a part of the 
general system of subjugation; that the moment 
was now come in which they were called upon to 
decide, whether they chose to live free, and hand 
down the noble inheritance to their children, or to 
become hewers of wood, and drawers of water to 
those lordlings, who were themselves the tools of 
a corrupt and tyrannical ministry — he painted the 
country in a state of subjugation, and drew such 
pictures of wretched debasement and abject vassal- 
age, as filled their souls with horror and mdignation 
— on the other hand, he carried them, by the pow- 
ers of his eloquence, to an eminence like Mount Pis- 
gah ; showed them the land of promise, which was 
to be won by their valour, under the support and 
guidance of neaven, and sketched a vision of Amer- 
ica enjoying the smiles of liberty and peace, the 
rich proauctions of her agriculture waving on every 
field, her commerce whitening every sea, m tints so 
bright, so strong, so glowing, as set the souls of his 
hearers on fire. He had no doubt, he said, that that 
God, who in former ages had hardened Pharaoh's 
heart, that he might show forth his power and 
glory in the redemption of his chosen people, had, 
for similar purposes, permitted the flagrant outrages 


which had occurred in Williamsbni^, and throogh- 
out the continent. It was for them now to deter- 
mine, whether they were worthy of thu divine in- 
terference ; whether they wonld accept the high 
boon now held ont to them by heaven — that if 
they woold, though it might lead them through a 
sea of blood, they were to remember that the same 
God whose power divided the Red Sea for the de- 
liverance of Israel, still reigned in all his glory, un- 
changed and aDchaneeable — was still the enemy of 
the oppressor, snd uie friend of the oppressed — 
that Le would cover them from their enemies by a 
pillar of cloud by day, and guide their feet through 
the night by a pillar of fire — that for his own part, 
he was anxious that his native county should dis- 
tinguish itself in this grand career of liberty uid 
gloiy, and snatch the noble prize which was now 
offered to their grasp — that no time was to be lost — 
that their enemies in this colony were now few and 
weak — that it would be easy for them, by a rapid 
and vigoroos movement, to compel the restoration 
of the powder which had been carried of, or to 
make a reprisal on the King's revenues in the hands 
of the receiver-general, which would fairly balance 
the account — that the Hanover volunteers would 
thus have an opportunity of stiiking the first blow 
in this colony, in the great cause of American lib- 
erty, and would cover themselves with never-fading 

The men were inflamed by his speech, and elect- 
ing him their captain by acclamation, they de- 
clared their determination to follow wherever he 
should lead. He at once despatched Ensign Parke 
Good all with sixteen men to Laneville, in King 
William County, the residence of Colonel Richard 
Corbin, who was acting as the King's Receiver-Gen 


eral, with orders to demand of him JB330, as com- 
pensation for the gunpowder, and in case of his re- 
fusaly to take him prisoner, and report at Doncastle 
Ordinary. Captain Henry at the head of one hun- 
dred and fifty men then took up the line of march 
to Williamsburg. The news of this bold movement 
spread rapidly, and volunteers started up on all sides 
eager to join his standard. The number is said to 
have reached five thousand. 

The Governor had called together the Council on 
May 2, at the palace, fearing to trust himself in the 
Council Chamber, and made them an address in 
justification of his conduct,^ charging that the ex- 
citement in the colony was due to " headstrong and 
designing pecfple, by whom plans and schemes are 
unquestionably meditated in this colony for sub- 
verting the present, and erecting a new form of gov- 
ernment." At his instance a proclamation was is- 
sued the next day in accordance with his address,* 
which seems to have been alone opposed by John 
Page, the youngest member of the Council. It was 
evident that this was aimed at Captain Henry, 
whom the Governor now openly abused as a rebel, 
and the author of all the existing disturbances, 
charging him with cowardice in not setting out 
with Randolph and Pendleton for the Continental 
Congress,* and threatening to inflict upon him a 
rebel's punishment. When news reached Williams- 
burg, however, that Heniy at the head of an armed 
force was marching upon the city, the Governor's 
blustering gave way to terror. He armed the In- 
dian hostages and his slaves, planted cannon at the 

I American ArchiveB, 4th Series, it, 404. ' Idem, 405. 

' It was believed he had plamied to arrest all three on their journey. 


palace, obtained from Captain Mont^ue of the 
Fowey, maD-of-war, lying at York, a detachment 
of sailors and marines, and m^ed the town anthori- 
tiee, in vain, to call out the military and resist Hen- 
ry's entrance.* He sent Lady Dnnmore and ber 
children aboard the Fowey, and woold doubtless 
have retired to that place of safety himself,' had he 
failed to arrest Henry^a march. In order to do tbia 
he prevailed on the leading men of Williamabui^, 
inclading prominent patriots who would likely in- 
fluence Henry, to send messenger after messenger 
imploring him to desist ^m his design. These 
messengers were detained by Captain Heniy, while 
he continued his determined and orderly advance. 
Reaching Doncastle, sixteen miles frfim Williams- 
burg, he halted for Ensign Goodall, who soon re- 
poited that Colonel Coi-bin was absent from home, 
and at Williamsburg. Finding all other means un- 
availing to ward off Henry's attack, the Governor 
sent Carter Braxton, the son-in-law of Colonel Cor- 
bin, with an offer to pay the amount demanded ; 
and the ofEer being submitted to the volunteera, and 
deemed satisfactory, the amount was paid, and the 
following receipt given : 

" iUy i, 1778. 

" Received from the Honourable Richard Corbin, 
Esq., His Majesty's Receiver- General, £330, as a 
compensation for the Gunpowder lately taken out 
of the public Magazine by the Govemour's oi-der ; 
which money I promise to convey to the Virginia 

' BaootoftTii, 377. 

' Colonel Samuel Heiedith ntuted ia hia oommnnioAtioD to Hr. Wlit 
tliat tba Oovemor aotoallj went tlboaid. 


Delegates at the General Congress, to be under their 
direction laid out in Gunpowder for the Colony's 
use, and to be stored as they shall direct, until the 
next Colony Convention, or General Assembly, un- 
less it shall be necessary, in the mean time to use 
the same in defence of this Colony. It is agreed, 
that in case the next Convention shall determine 
that any part of the said money ought to be re- 
turned to His Majesty's Receiver-General, that the 
same shall be done accordingly. 

"Patrick Henry, Junior." 

Captain Henry then sent by express the following 
letter to Robert Carter Nicholas, the treasurer of 
the Colony. 

" May 4, 1775. 

" Sir : The afEair of the powder is now settled, 
so as to produce satisfaction to me, and I earnestly 
wish to tne Colony in general The people here have 
it in charge from the Hanover Committee, to tender 
their services to you as a public officer, for the pur- 
pose of escorting the public Treasury to any place 
in this Colony, where the money would be judged 
more safe than in the City of Williamahwrg. The 
reprisal now made by the Hanover Volunteers, 
though accomplished in a manner least liable to the 
imputation oi violent extremity, may possibly be 
the cause of future injury to the Treasury. If there- 
fore you apprehend the least danger, a sufficient 
guard is at your service. I beg the return of the 
bearer may be instant, because the men wish to 
know their destination. 

" With great regard, I am, Sir, your most humble 
servant, "Patrick Henrt, Junior." 

To this an answer was retui'ned by Mr. Nicholas 
importing "that he had no apprehension of the ne- 


cesaity or propriety of the proffered service." At 
the same time information was received, that the 
citizens of "Williamsburg were in a good measure 
quieted from their late apprehensions of violence at 
the hands of the Governor, and thereupon the volun- 
teers were dismissed, and returned to their homes to 
await the farther direction of the general Congress, 
or Colonial Convention. 

No sooner was the Governor informed that Cap- 
tain Henry had dismissed his command, than his 
couTf^ revived, and he issued the following procla- 

" Viiginia, to wit ; 

" Whereas, I have been informed, from undoubted 
authority, that a certain Patrick Henry, of the 
county of Hanover, and a number of his deluded 
followers, have taken up arms and etyling them- 
selves an Independent Company, have marched out 
of their County, encamped, and. put themselvs in a 
posture for war, and have written and dispatched 
letters to divers parts of the Country, exciting the 
people to join in these outrageous and rebellious 
practices, to the great terror of all His Majesty's 
faithful subjects, and in open defiance of law and 
government; and have committed other acts of 
violence, particularly in extorting from His Majesty's 
Receiver-General the sum of Three Hundred and 
Thirty Pounds, under pretence of replacing the 
Powder I thought proper to order from the Maga- 
zine ; whence it undeniably appears that there is no 
longer the least security for the life or property of 
any man : 

Wherefore, I have thought proper, with the 
advice of His Majesty's Council, and in His 
Majesty's name, to issue this my Proclamation, 
strictly charging all persons, upon their allegiance, 


not to aid, abet, or give countenance to the said 
Patrick Hewry^ or any other persons concerned in 
such unwarrantable combinations, but on the con- 
trary to oppose them and their designs by every 
means; which designs must, otherwise, inevitably 
involve the whole Country in the most direful ca- 
lamity, as they will call for the vengeance of of- 
fended Majesty and the insulted laws to be exerted 
here, to vindicate the constitutional authority of 

" Given under my hand and the seal of the Col- 
ony, at William8hva*gj this 6th day of Mayj 1775, 
and in the fifteenth year of His Majesty^s reign. 


" God save the Kirtg^ 

To the Ministry Dunmore denounced Mr. Henry, 
as "a man of desperate circumstances, who had 
been very active in encouraging disobedience and 
exciting a spirit of revolt among the people for 
many years past." ^ 

The Council at this time consisted of Thomas Nel- 
son, Kichard Corbin, William Byrd, Ralph Worm- 
ley, Jr., Rev. John Camm, and John Page. The 
latter in his memoir * states, that having at the pre- 
vious meeting advised the restoration of the powder, 
he was never afterward summoned to attend the 
meetings. It is probable that Nelson, the uncle of 
General Nelson, was also opposed to the Governor's 
course. But the people generally looked upon the 
whole Council with suspicion, and held them, with 
the Governor, as enemies of Virginia, a feeling 
which was greatly intensified by this proclamation, 
and by one issued by the Council on May 15, ex- 

1 Bancroft, yiL, 335. * Virginia Historical Register, iii., 149. 


pressing *' abhorrence and detestation of that licen- 
tious and ungovernable spirit that is gone forth, and 
misleads the once happy people of this country." ' 

Mr. Henry's bold move was not alone condemned 
by the Council. Some of the leading men in 
Williamsburg and the lower counties thought it 
rash and ill-advised, and calculated to precipitate 
the colony into a war with England.' They did 
not see that war was inevitable, had, in fact, com- 
menced, and that nothing was to be gained by fur- 
ther forbearance. Fearing that this feeling might 
canse an attack upon him in the approaching Con- 
vention, Mr. Henry wrote the following letter to 
his personal friend, Francis Lightfoot Lee, before 
setting out for Philadelphia. 

"HufoVKB, Hay 8, 1775. 

" Dear Sir : For the several facts relative to 
the transactions of the Hanover Volunteers, who 
marched in consequence of the Governor's conduct 
in the affair of the powder, and the reprisal made by 
us, I refer you to the public papers, which I expect 
will give a true recital of that matter. I find it is 
now said by those who opposed the measure we took, 
that the powder belonged to the King. And it is 
very remarkable the Goveraor, in his late proclama- 
tion, seems to rely upon that as a pi'incipal fact on 
which he is to be justiJied. But I rely on the ad- 
dress of the city of Williamsburg, and his answer to 
it also, to prove the contraiy. Why does lie prom- 
ise to return it in half an hour? And again what 
powder was he to return, or did he take ? I answer 
the powder mentioned in the address; to wit, that 

■ Aii)«ri(tui AicbiTSB, 4th Setici, il., 687. 

) An ftbl« defsDca ul Hr. Bent? appeued In the pnhlio piluta OT«r the 
Uffnatvre of "Brntna." Sea Idem, il., 641. 


which was provided for the safety of the Colony, 
and for the loss of which Williamsburg was so 
much alarmed. But I ask, suppose it was the 
King's, what right had any one to deposit it in the 
magazine, built expressly for the purpose of receiv- 
ing such ammunition as was at any time necessary 
for our safety ? His Majesty can have no right to 
convert the houses, or other conveniences necessary 
for our defence, into repositories for engines of our 
destruction. So that the presumption is, that the 
powder being there it was ours. It was a trespass 
to open that place for the reception of any otner. 
Add to this wnat is contained in his lordship's an- 
swer referred to above, and no doubt can remain 
but that the pretence of the Crown having a prop- 
erty in it is a quibble. For the sake of the public 
tranquility, as well as of justice, I chose to be active 
in making the reprisal And having designedly re- 
ferred to the Convention whether any of tne money 
ought to be returned, lest presuming too much mi^ht 
be alleged against me, I trouble you, sir, with this, 
to be an advocate for the measure if you think it 
right. I suppose my attendance at the Congress 
may prevent me from being present at the Conven- 
tion, where perhaps an attempt may be made to 
condemn the measure and misrepresent my conduct. 
I trust that the moderation and justice of the pro- 
ceeding will fully appear from a great variety of 
circumstances. And tnat my countrymen will sup- 
port me in it, especially when we consider the hos- 
tilities to the Northward would have justified much 
greater reprisals, which I chose to decline as the 
Convention might probably so soon meet To the 
collective body of my country I chose to submit my 
conduct, and have to b^ you will excuse the trouble 
I have given you by this long letter. I only mean 
to beg your attention to the subject, that you may 
not be surprised at some objections against my pro- 


ceedingSy which I fear will be made by some gentle* 
men from below. 

^^ Will you be bo good as to ezcnae inacomncies t 
Horry obligeB me to use the pen of a young man to 
transcribe. The few reasons mtimatea above are in- 
deed unnecessary to yoU| whose better judgment is 
able to inform ma You will readily perceive the 
absurdity of the pretence, that the King can have a 
property in anytning distinct from Ins people, mA 
how dangerous is the position that his protection 
(for which we have already paid him) may be with- 
drawn at pleasure. If any doubt remains as to the 
fitness of the step I have taken, can it lay over until 
I am heard } I can mention many facts which I 
am sure will abundantly warrant what is done. 
Wishing you every good thing, I romain with senti- 
ments <3 the highest and most perfect esteem and 

"Dear sir, 

"P. HrarBY. 

'' To Francib Liohtfoot Lkb, EfiQ." 

But he was not long left in doubt as to the ver- 
dict of the people upon his conduct County after 
county through its Committee warmly applauded 
his course, his old constituents in Louisa leading 
the way.^ On May 9, the Committee of Hanover 
adopted a paper assuming the responsibility of the 
movement, carefully detailing its progress and re- 
sult, testifying to the orderly conduct of the volun- 
teers, and thanking them and " the many volunteers 
of the different counties who joined and wero march- 
ing" with them, for their services.* Congratulat- 
ory addresses and resolutions, approving his con- 

1 See American Arohiyes, 4th Series, ii, 629, et leq., for these pxooeed- 

ings. Those preserved in the pnblio prints were from Orange, Spottsjl- 

yania, Prinoe William, London, Lancaster, Prince Edwaid, and Finoastie. 

' American Arohiyes, 4th Series, ii., 540. 



duct and pledging him sapport, poured in upon Mr. 
Henry from all parts of the colony, and when he 
set oat on May 11, for the Continental Congress, 
his jonmey was impeded by express riders bringing 
these conmianications, which he was forced to an- 
swer.^ His jonmey till he crosssed the Potomac 
was thus described in the public prints at the time.' 

'* Hakoysb, May 13, 1775. — ^Yesterday, Patrick 
Henry, one of the Delegates of this Colony, escorted 
by a number of respectable young gentlemen. Vol- 
unteers from this and Eane William and Caroline 
Counties, set out to attend the General Congress. 
They proceeded with him as far as Mrs. Hooe's 
Ferry, on the Potomack, by whom they were most 
kindly and hospitably entertained ; and also pro- 
vided with boats and hands to cross the river. And 
after partaking of this lady's beneficence, the bulk 
of the company took their leave of Mr. Henry ^ salut- 
ing him with two platoons and repeated huzzas. A 
guard accompanied that worthy gentleman to the 
Maryland side, who saw him ssSely landed ; and 
committing him to the gracious and wise Disposer of 
all human events, to guide and protect while con- 
tending for a restitution of our dearest rights and 
liberties, they wished him a safe journey, and a 
happy retam to his family and friends." 

This escort was not alone to do honor to Mr. 
Henry. The proclamation and private threats of 
Dunmore made it certain that he desired his arrest, 
and this military escort was to insure his safety till 
he crossed the Potomac 

At the head of the volunteers from Hanover, who 

> MS. Letter to Mr. Wirt from Nathaniel Pope. 
* Ameriean Arohives, 4th Sexiea, ii., 641. 


constituted an important part of this esoort^ rode 
Mr. Henry's intimate friend, Parke Gk>odaIL To 
2iim Mr. Hrary talked freely. He told him that 
there onght to be at onoe a confederation of all of 
the colonies against Great Britain, and that he was 
satisfied that the Northern colonies would enter 
alone into the impending war, if the Southern colo- 
nies were pusillanimous enough to desert them. 
But he expressed confidence that this would neyer 
be. He was sure there would be a general con- 
federation, and that independence would be estab- 
lished, if not by our own exertions, with the aid of 
foreign power&^ 

Mr. Henry was as thoroughly convinced as Lord 
Chatham, that the immedicahUe vnln/us had been 
inflicted at Lexington, and he was satisfied that the 
war must of necessity be one for independence. But 
he knew that the measures of the Ministry had not 
as yet entirely alienated the people of America, nor 
destroyed all hope of reconciliation. And no great 
leader was ever more accurate in measuring a popu- 
lar movement, or wise in proposing advanced meas- 
ures at the moment when the people were ready for 
them. For the present, therefore, he was content 
to adopt such measures as would keep the people 
together, and to patiently wait till the fulness of 
time enabled him to strike the decisive blow for in- 
dependence. His calm demeanor was in striking 
contrast with the impatience of his friend John 
Adams, as displayed in his utterances in Congress 
and in letters to his friends.' 

> MS. Letter of Nathaniel Pope to Wmiam Wit, 
* See Letter to Jamea Warren in Life and Woda of Jobn Adama, iL» 


Mr. Henry took his seat in Congress on May 18. 
No account of the debates has been preserved, and 
but little is known of their proceedings except 
what is shown by the Journal. But few new mem- 
bers appeared in the body ; among these, however, 
were some of consummate ability. In the New 
York delegation, now representing a colony con- 
trolled by the patriots, was George Clinton, after- 
ward distinguished as a general, as Governor of New 
York, and as Vice-President of the United States by 
two elections. In the Pennsylvania delegation ap- 
peared Benjamin Franklin, just returned from his 
residence in London, and already famous in two 
continents ; vnth him was James Wilson, afterward 
distinguished as a judge of the United States Su- 
preme Court and as a Law Professor. John Han- 
cock, prominent by reason of his great fortune and 
devoted patriotism, appeared as a delegate from 
Massachusetts, and upon the departure of Peyton 
Randolph for the Virginia Assembly was made 
President of the Congress. The first representative 
from Georgia, Lyman Hall, also appeared, represent- 
ing the parish of St. John, the forerunner of a full 
delegation at the next session. 

The body had been in session for a week and was 
earnestly considering the state of America. On 
assembling it had been met by a communication 
from the Colonial Agents in London, relating the 
neglect of the petition to the King, and the harsh 
and tyrannical measures of Parliament ; and by a 
communication from the Provincial Congress of 
Massachusetts, relating the unprovoked commence- 
ment of hostilities at Lexington and Concord, and 
the subsequent investment o£ Boston by a provin- 



eial army, oommanded by General Artemaa Ward 
of MassachnBetta The members of Congress had 
been appointed before the commencement of hostil:^ 
ities, and their commissions only anthorized them to 
take measures for a redress of grievances and for a 
restoration of harmony with Great Britain. They 
found themselves in the greatest embarrassmenti 
therefore, from a want of power to meet the exigen- 
cies of the hour, an embarrassment increased by the 
division of sentiment in the body as to the proper 
course to be pursued by the colonies. John Adams, 
with whom probably Samuel agreed, urged that 
they make a virtue of necessity, and take up the 
government of the continent^ raise at once an army 
and navy, and arrest the friends ci British govern- 
ment to be held as hostages for the people ci Bos^ 
ton, and then open n^otiations for peace and T€h 
conciliation.^ A party led by John Jay and John 
Dickinson, on the contrary, insisted on strictly de- 
fensive measures, and a further effort at recondl* 
iation through another petition to the King.' 

On May 15, a communication was received from 
the city and county of New York, informing Con- 
gress of the expected arrival of British troops in 
their midst, and asking for advice as to how they 
should conduct themselves In the debate which en- 
sued the party led by Jay and Dickinson previoiled, 
and the people of New York were advised to act 
strictly on the defensive, not to resist the landing of 
the troops, but to be prepared to protect themselves 
from insult and injury. At the same time a com- 

1 See Letter to James Warren, July 24, 1775, Life and Works of John 
Adams, il, 411. 
* Life of John Jay, i., 86. 


mittee was appointed, with Washington as its chair- 
man, to consider what posts should be occupied in the 
State of New York and with what force. Thus the 
line of policy to be pursued had been determined on 
by Congress before Mr. Henry took his seat, but 
the current of events soon swept them along at a 
more rapid rate than they intended, and in adopt- 
ing measures of defence they became of necessity 
active belligerents. 

Mr. Henry found the same disposition to follow 
the lead of the Virginia delegates as formerly.^ It 
became their duty therefore to direct the swelling 
tide of revolution, and this they did with steadiness 
and caution. 

On the day Mr. Henry took his seat intelligence 
was received of the capture of Ticonderoga with a 
lai^ quantity of ams and ammunition, by a de- 
tachment from Massachusetts and Connecticut led 
by Colonel Ethan Allen. This bold and aggressive 
movement could not be condemned, as there was 
evidenoe that the military stores were intended for 
use by a force preparing to invade the colony of 
New York from Canada, and besides the stores were 
greatly needed by the colonists. The Congress 
therefore justified the act as one of precaution, and 
recommended that the cannon and stores be se- 
cured, but, with a most conscientious regard for the 
line of conduct they had determined on, they added 
to their recommendation, ^' that an exact inventory 
be taken of all such cannon and stores, in order that 
they may be safely returned when the restoration 
of the former harmony between Great Britain and 

> Letter of John Adami to Timothy Piokering, Life and Works of John 
Adams, ii., 613. 


these colonies, so ardently wished for by the latter, 
shall render it pmdent and consistent with the over- 
ruling law of self-preservation." 

For a week Congress oontinaed to debate in Gom- 
mittee of the Whole the state of America, before 
coming to any condnsion, bat on May S6, with Lord 
North's proposals before them by a formal refer- 
ence of the Assembly of New Jersey, they re- 
connted the oppressive Acts of Parliament, and the 
commencement of hostilities by the Ministry, and 
nnanimottsly resolved, " that for the parpc»e of se- 
curing and defending these colonies, and preserving 
them in safety against all attempts to carry the 
said Acts into execution by force of arms, these col- 
onies be immediately pat into a state of defence." 
They added to this resolve the expression of an ar- 
dent wish for recoDcitiation, and a resolation that 
to promote it, " an hnmble and dutifal petition be 
presented to his Majesty," and that it contain a re- 
quest that negotiations be entered into to effect the 
desired accommodation. They also recommended 
to New York the fortification of a post at Kings- 
bridge for the protection of the city, and of another 
in the Highlands on the Hudson to command the 
navigation of the river,* and the embodiment of 
three thousand troops to man these and the post on 
Lake Oeoi^; also the arming and training of 
the militia of New York, and the disposition of 
troops within the city for its protection; and added 
the following significant advice to the Congress of 
that colony : "To persevere the more vigorously in 
preparing for their defence, as it is very uncer- 
tain whether the earnest endeavors of the Congress 

< Thii wu th« begimiliiK of tha fortiflMtlon at Wait Point 


to accommodate the unhappy. difierences between 
Great Britun and the coloniea by ooDoiliatory meas- 
area, will be BaccessfuL" 

These resolutions were in &ot a rejection of Lord 
North's proposals for accoDunodation, and a deter- 
mination to enter at once upon the war which might 
be the consequence, but at the same time an offer to 
treat for peace on the condition of the recognitiMi 
of their liberties, a condition they had but little 
hope of securing. By this action, therefore. Con- 
gress declined peace on the only terms which were 
offered, or which they expected would be offered, 
and accepted war as ^e alternative. 

In the momentous debate which resulted in 
this action it cannot be doubted that Mr. Henry's 
voice was heard. The bugle call to arms, which he 
had sounded in the Virginia Convention only two 
months before, was moat cei'tainly repeated with 
all the energy and eloquence of which he was 
capable, now that he stood in the midst of the rep- 
resentatives of the united coloniea It ia, indeed 
a significant fact, that the first utterance of the body 
after the day Mr. Henry took his seat was a unani- 
mous determination to arm for the defence of their 
liberties, a determination which fixed the fate of 
Ameiica, and assured her political freedom. 

The Congress now went to work industriously to 
prepare the colonies for war. A committee, with 
Washington at its head, was directed to consider 
and report immediately the ways and means to sup- 
ply the coloniea with ammunition and military 
stores. Its recommendations were acted on, and 
as an additional measure, a member from each col- 
ony was selected to inquire, during recess, in the 


several colonies after lead, and the best method of 
collecting, smelting, and refining it, and also the 
cheapest and easiest methods of making salt. Upon 
this committee Mr. Henry was placed for Virginia.^ 
A postal service was established, with Franklin as 
the first Postmaster-General. Upon the request of 
the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts for advice 
as to taking up civil government, they advised the 
people to elect an Assembly, and the Assembly to 
elect a Council, which together should exercise the 
powers of government, until a Crovemor of his Ma- 
jesty's appointment would consent to govern the 
colony according to its charter. 

The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts having 
also requested Congress to take the regulation and 
direction of the army investing Boston, it was de* 
termined after anxious consideration to comply with 
the request This was a decided step in advance of 
the position previously taken by the body, which 
had been to act merely as an advisoiy body for 
the colonies. It was in fact to engage the colo- 
nies in war with Great Britain. It required an as- 
sumption of adequate powers, and was apparently 
an act of the greatest rashness. Great Britain was 
one of the great powers of Europe, having a strong 
government, a powerful army and navy thoroughly 
equipped and trained, and boundless resources. 
America had no trained army, and no navy what- 
ever, and was without munitions of war or money. 
But its greatest want was a general government 
with power to concentrate and wield the resources 
of the colonies. The Congress had not the power to 
enforce a single enactment, and was entii'ely depen- 

^ A striking tribute to his capacity for details. 


dent on the compliance of the several colonies with 
their requisitions. The righteousness of their cause, 
the patriotism of the people, and the favor of the 
God of battles, were the reliance of Congress in the 
momentous struggle upon which they entered. 
With a profound sense of their dependence on ^^ the 
Great Governor of the world," in this crisis of their 
afEairs, they recommended that July 20 be observed 
by the people ^^ as a day of public humiliation, fast- 
ing, and prayer," The observance was general and 
profouncUy impressiva 

On June 15, Mr. Henry had the supreme satis- 
faction of seeing Washington, whom he had long 
considered the foremost man in America, chosen by 
a unanimous vote to be the '^ Conunander-in-Chief 
of the forces raised, or to be raised, in defence of 
American liberty." The next day he heard the 
modest terms in which Washington accepted the 
great trust, and displayed his disinterested devotion 
to the cause by refusing to receive any compensation 
for his services. How sincerely he distrusted his 
ability to successfully defend American liberty 
against the great odds arrayed against it, was pro* 
f oundly impressed on Mr. Henry when Washington, 
on the same day, said to him in the intimacy 
of fiiendship, and with his eye glistening with a 
tear, "This day will be the commencement of the 
decline of my reputation."^ Happily for man- 
kind, his modesty underestimated his abilities, and 
that day was the commencement of the more vigor- 
ous growth of a reputation which has filled the 

Artemas Ward was made the first Major-General, 

'Banexoft, vii, 401. 



and Charles Lee the second. Lee was a clever but 
eccentric British officer, who had seen considerable 
service, and fancied himself neglected by his gov- 
ernment. He had bought property in Virginia, 
and had warmly espoused the cause of the colonies. 
His election was urged by some of the Southern 
members, among whom was Washington, and advo 
cated by John and Samuel Adams. Mr. Henry 
probably nominated him, as he was appointed the 
chairman of the committee to inform him of his 
election. Before accepting the commission tendered 
to him. General Lee requested a conference with a 
committee on which each colony should be repre- 
sented by a delegate. Mr. Henry represented Vir- 
ginia on this committee, and his admiration for the 
man he had just aided in makinc; a Major-General 
in the AmeriL «my m„^ have U oiked, when 
he found that he had estimated his estate, and re- 
quired indemnity for any loss of property he might 
sustain by entering into their service, a striking 
conti'ast to the unselfish devotion of Washington to 
the cause of his country. 

Philip Schuyler and Israel Putnam were also 
made Major-Generals, and Horatio Gates was ap- 
pointed Adjutant-General. Eight Brigadier-Gen- 
erals were elected. 

It was determined to increase the army around 
Boston by twelve companies of expert riflemen, to 
be enlisted for one year, of which eight were to be 
raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two 
in Virginia. Rules and regulations for the army 
were adopted, and the issue of three millions of 
dollars in paper money ordered, which the several 
colonies were asked to provide means to redeem. 


Of thie issae $496,378, the lai^^ quota, was as- 
signed to Virgima. 

It is an interesting circtuuatance, and one whiok 
shows the warm peraonal relations between the two 
men, that the first commnnication made to Congress 
by General Washington was throngh Mr. Henry. 
Tlie Jonmal of Jnne 31, shows that "Mr. Henry 
informed the Congress that the General had pat 
into his hands sundry queries to which he desired 
the Congress would give an answer." Mr. Henry 
was one of the committee of five appointed to re- 
port the proper answers to these queries. 

On the same day Thomas Jefferson appeared for 
the first time as a delegate fi'om Vii^;inia, biinging 
with him the reply of her House of Bui^essea to 
Lord North's proposals, of which he was the drafts- 
man. On the next day information was received of 
the battle of Bunker Hill, as it is commonly known, 
and that the eminent patriot Joseph "Warren was 
among the slain. His loss deeply moved the hearts 
of the patriots throughout America, and Mr. Henry, 
beholding its effect, exclaimed, " A breach on our 
affections was needed to arouse the country to 
action." ' 

On July 18, Congress recommended to the colo- 
nies to organize and train their entire militia, con- 
sisting of males between sixteen and fifty, and to 
provide sufficient stores of ammunition. They at 
the same time recommended " to each colony to ap- 
point a Committee of Safety, to superintend and di- 
rect all matters necessary for the security and de- 
fence of their respective colonies, in the recess of 
their assemblies and conventions." 

'Buoiott, TiiL, 30. 


Thns CoDgreas soon realized the fact, annoonced 
by Mr. Heniy at their first meeting, that the royal 
government was dissolTed, and the colonies mnst 
provide govemmenta in its stead. 

The relations of the Indians to the colonies, in the 
struggle they were now entering upon, was a matter 
of the utmost importance. When the King was in- 
formed of the battles of Concord and Lexington, he 
determined to increase his forces in America, and 
to engage the assistance of the Six Nations in subdu- 
ing his rebellious subjects. He sent directly to the 
unscrupulous Guy Johnson, the Indian agent, an 
order to lose no time in inducing them to *' take up 
the hatchet against the colonists."' The matter 
was brought to the attention of Congress by the con- 
vention of New York, and by a petition from West 
Augusta County in Vii^inia. On June 16, a com- 
mittee of five were appointed, of which Mr. Henry 
was a member, to report what steps should be taken 
for securing and preserving the friendship of the Ind- 
ian nations. Upon the report of this committee the 
Indian territory was divided into three departments, 
the northern to embrace the Six Nations and the 
tribes to the northward, the southern the Cherokees 
and the tribes to the southward, and the middle the 
tribes between the other two. Commissioners were 
appointed for these departments, with power to 
treat with the Indians in order to preserve their 
friendship. For the middle department Mr. Frank- 
lin, Mr. Henry, and Mr. Wilson were unanimously 
elected commissioners. Mr. Henry also served on 
a committee to examine an invoice of Indian goods 
offered to Congress by a Mr. Alsop, and on a com- 

1 BuoToft, 1VL, 849. 


mittee to negotiate with Rev. Samuel Kirkland, an 
Indian missionary, to secure his services among the 
Six Nations, in order to obtain their friendship or 

The appointments of Mr. Henry on the several 
committees which have been noticed, demonstrate 
clearly his high standing in the body as a working 
member, and that he had shown himself as efficient 
in action as he was eloquent in speech. 

The troubles which grew out of the disputed 
boundary between Virginia and Pennsylvania con- 
tinued to increase under the violence of John Con- 
nolly, the unprincipled agent of Lord Dunmore, who 
was anxious to embroil the two colonies in civil 
strife. To prevent this, and to unite the people on 
the border in the struggle between the colonies and 
Great Britain, was the ardent wish of Mr. Henry 
and of his associates in Congress from the two colo- 
nies. They accordingly united in the following 
patriotic address.^ 

" To the InhahitarUs of Pennsylvania and Vir* 
ffiniaj an the west side of Laurel HiU. 

*' Philadblfhia, July 25, 1775. 

" Friends and Countrymen : It gives us much 
concern to find that disturbances have arisen, and 
still continue, among you, concerning the boundaries 
of your colonies. In the character in which we 
now address you, it is unnecessary to inquire into 
the origin of those unhappy disputes, and it would 
be improper for us to express our approbation or 
censure on either side; but as representatives of two 
of the colonies, united among many others for the 

* Amerioan Axohives, 4ih Seiiesi ii., p. 1788. 


defence of the liberties of America, we think it our 
duty to remove, as far as lies in onr power, every 
obstacle that may prevent her sons &om co-oper- 
ating, as vigoronsly as they wonld wish to do, to- 
ward the attainment of tms great and important 
end. Influenced solely by this motive, onr joint 
and earnest reqneet to yon is, that all animosities 
among yoa as mhabitants of distinct colonies, may 
now give place to generous and concurring ecfforts 
for the preservation of everything that can make 
our common country dear to us. 

" We are fully persuaded that you, as well as we, 
wish to see your (ufferences terminate in this happy 
issna For this desirable purpose we recommend 
it to you that all bodies of armed men, kept un- 
der either province, be dismissed, that all those on 
either side who are in confinement, or under bail, 
for taking a part in the contest, be discharged, and 
that until the dispute be decided, every person be 
permitted to retain his possessions unmolested. 

" By observing these directions, the publick tran- 
quility will be secured without injury to the titles 
on either side. The peiiod, we flatter ourselves, will 
soon arrive when this unfortunate dispute, which 
has produced much mischief, and 03 far as we can 
learn no good, will be peaceably and constitution- 
ally determined. 

" "We are your friends and countrymen, 
"Patbick Hbnbt, John Dickinson, 

" Bbnjahin Habbison, Benjahin Franeun, 
"KiCHABD Hbnbt Lee, Chablbs Huhphrbts, 
"Thomas Jbffebson, Geobqb Ross, 

"James Wilson." 

During the last days of the session Dr. Franklin 
introduced a draft of articles of confederation to be 
proposed to the several colonies. 

Hr. Henry had already expressed himself warmly 


in favor of the measure, and was its earnest advo- 
cate until it was subsequently adopted. For the 
present, however, the hope of reconciliation enter- 
tained by those who urged the second petition to 
the King stood in the way of this important meas- 
ure, which was looked upon as an act of indepen- 

The papers which emanated from this Congress 
were marked by the same ability and patriotism 
which had distinguished those put forth by the Con- 
gress of 1774. The most important were an address 
" To the Oppressed Inhabitants of Canada," written 
by John Jay; "A Declaration by the Representatives 
of the United Colonies of North America, now met 
in Congress at Philadelphia, setting forth the Causes 
and Necessity of their Taking up Arms," and "A Peti- 
tion to the King's most Excellent Majesty," both writ- 
ten by John Dickinson ; ** An Address to the Inhabi- 
tants of Great Britain," written by Richard Henry 
Lee ; " An Address to the People of Ireland," written 
by William Livingston ; and " A Reply to the Reso- 
lutions of the House 6i Commons of February 20, 
1775," known as Lord North's proposals, which was 
written by Thomas Jefferson, and which, following 
the paper adopted by the Virginia Assembly, pre- 
sented in a masterly manner the reasons why the 
colonies declined to accept those proposals as a basis 
of settlement. In these papers Congress reiterated 
their claim to the political rights denied them by the 
British Government, and declared their determina- 
tion to maintain them at all hazards, but they at 
the same time deprecated the necessity which forced 
them to take up arms, and protested that they did 
not desire independence. The petition to the King 



was fleverely oriticiaed by some, who conndered it 
too hnmble in its tone. Its spirit was oertainly in 
tnarked contrast with that of the petition oi the pre 
ceding Congress. Bat this was doubtless wise, as 
tiie boldness of the first petition was all^;ed as a 
reason for its n^leot, and the party that proposed 
the second petition desired to leave the King with- 
out excuse if he tnmed a deaf ear to tlus, their last 
appeal for reconciliation. 

Congress adjourned on August 1, till Septem- 
ber 6, and Mr. Heniy returned at once to Virginia. 
On the day before he left Philadelphia he addressed 
the following graceful letter to General Wasfaing- 
toD, introducing to him a gentleman seeking military 
service, and at the same time indicating his appreci- 
ation of the straggle they were entering upon. 

u,Jiil7 81",lT7& 

" Sib : Give me Leave to recommend the Bearer, 
M'. Frazer, to your Notice & R^rd. He means 
to enter the American Camp, & there to gain that 
Experience of which the general Cause may be 
avail'd. It is my earnest wish that many Virgin- 
ians might see service. It is not unlikely that in 
the Fluctuation of things our Country may have oc- 
casion for great military Exertions. For this Season 
I have taken the Liberty to trouble you with thistfe 
a few Others of the same Tendency. The public 
good which you, Sir, have bo eminently promoted, is 
my only motive. That you may enjoy the protec- 
tion of Heaven, & live long & happy, is the ardent 
Wish of, 8 PF>. 


" Y' ma ob' hble servS 

"P, Henrt J". 

" Bi» Bxaellancy Qkr^ WASDiKflTOH.*' 



Yiiginia Biflemen Sent to Bosion. — ^Meeting of the Aasemblj. — 
Difficulties with Govemor I>immore. — His Flight — Demftnd of 
Hanover Presbyteiy for Beligions Liberty. — ^Meeting of Third 
GonTention. — George Msson a Member. — Troops Ordered to 
be Baised.— Patrick Henry Made Golonel of the First Begi- 
ment and Commander of Virginia Forces. — Committee of Safety 
Appointed.— ^Address of Convention. — ^Enthusiastic Beeeption 
of Colonel Henry by His Troops.— The Colonies Declared to be 
in a State of Bebellion. — ^War Upon Virginia by Dunmore. — 
The Committee of Safety Prevent Colonel Henry from Taking 
the Field.— Battle of Great Bridge.— Meeting of Elizabeth 
Henry and William Campbell. 

Thb rifle corps ordered by Congress was quickly 
filled up. The whole twelve companies were raised, 
equipped and in camp by August 14. The two 
from Virginia were from the lower valley, and were 
commanded by Captain Hugh Stephenson ^ and Cap- 
tain Daniel Morgan. Captain Stephenson was in 
1776 appointed colonel of a regiment of riflemen 
ordered to be raised, of which four companies were 
from Virginia. He died before taking command, 
and was succeeded by Captain Morgan.' Daniel 
Morgan, so celebrated afterward as a soldier, 
marched his company from Frederick County to 
Boston, a distance of six hundred miles, in three 
weeks.' He carried his company afterward with 

1 In EzeontiTe Journal of October 9, 1778» there ia an order oonoeniiiig 
the extra pay allowed hia oompanj. 

* Sparkfl*B WashiDfiTton, iy., 124. 

* WritingB of Washington, iii., 100. Washington ia said to haye been 
greatly moved when he saw them enter oamp. 



Mon^omery upon the imfortanate expedition into 
Canada, and won his flnt distinction in that cam- 

Events of the greatest importance were talcing 
place in VirgiQia while Oongresa was in session, 
and before the day of adjournment arrived the Vir- 
ginia del^ation had become impatient to retnm to 
their homes.^ 

Dnnmor^ after having pronged the Assembly 
a half doien times to prevent their meeting, was 
forced to call them together by the order of the 
Ministry, to submit to their consideration Lord 
North's proposals, which were styled by the Tories 
" the Olive Branch." The House met June 1, great- 
ly excited by the commencement of hostilities at 
the North, and in no good hmnor with the Gov- 
ernor. In addition to his base conduct and false 
statements about the removal of the powder from 
the m^azine, his letters to Lord Dartmouth, mis- 
representing the condition of things in the Colony, 
had been published among the papers laid before 
Parliament, and republished in Yirginia. 

The first communications between the Governor 
and the House were studied in their formal cour- 
tesy, but they ill concealed the mutual dislike and 
want of confidence which existed. Before proceed- 
ing to consider Lord North's proposals, the House 
determined to investigate the conduct of the Gov- 
ernor. They requested him to inform them of the 
number of militia lately called into service, and of 
the expense incurred, and what duty had been per- 
formed by them since the Indian expedition. A 

■ Letter of Benjunio HaiilMii to WMblnfftoB, J11I7 91, tTTS. Sm Am- 
eiiaui Anibi-nm, 4tli SariM, U.> 1686. 


committee wbs also appointed to inspect the public 
magazine and inquire into the stores bel<Higing thera 
The appointment of this committee excited the an- 
ger of Lord Donmore, and when thej requested ac- 
cess to the magaiine, he sent a rade message to the 
Honse concerning them, pretending to be ignorant 
of their appointment. To this the Honse replied 
with becoming dignity, but in a papw which ex- 
posed the deceit of the Governor. His Ixndship 
then thought it beat to inform the Honse of his 
reasons for removing the powder and anns from the 
magaiine. His message claimed that the powder 
had been sent to the magasine from a man-of-war, 
and with the arms belonged to the King, and that 
their removal was because of the insecurity of the 
building. Their return was promised so soon as 
the building should be made secure. 

On the next day, which was June 7, his Lordship 
secretly removed with his family to His Majesty's 
ship, the Fowey, lying at York, leaving a message 
for the House, in which he alleged that he and his 
family were no longer safe in "Williamsburg. The 
House assured him of his safety, and requested his 
return so that the public business could be properly 
transacted, but his guilty conscience prevented him 
from trusting himself among a people he had so 
greatly wronged. From his new quarters he sent 
complaining messages, demanded the acceptance of 
Lord North's proposals, and finally attempted to 
get the House to attend him on board the ship. 
This they declined to do, treating the request as a 
.breach of their privileges. The committees ap- 
pointed to consider the condition of, the colony and 
the causes of the late disturbances, made reports 


which completely yindicatedi and upon abundant 
testdmony, the past conduct of the patriots in the 
colony, and exposed the duplicity of the Governor. 
These papers were adopted, and make a record which 
foUy justifies the colony in her course in this most 
trying period. The House also adopted the able- 
reply to Lord North's proposals which was prepared 
by Mr. Jefferson. After repairing and placing a 
guard at the magazine, they reminded the Governor 
of his promise to return the powder and arms taken 
away, but his refusal showed that his promise was 
never intended to be kept. His last act during the' 
session was the veto of the bill to pay the soldiers 
engaged in the late Indian war, on the ground thai 
the money was to be raised by a duty on imported 
slaves. The House finding that the formal ratifica-* 
tion of the late treaty with the Indians had never 
been made by the Gt>vemor, appointed a commission ^ 
to perform this duty, and on the same day, June 
24, adjourned themselves to October 12, follow- 
ing, as the Governor had abandoned his post and 
they could no longer legislate. 

No quorum ever met thereafter, and this was the* 
last session of a colonial legislature in Virginia, 
and the last time a colonial Governor occupied hw 
capitol. Thus expired colonial government in Yir^ 
ginia. Under different charters it had existed since 
1607, ahd under it a noble people had been devel* 
oped. It perished because of its violations by the 
King whose duty it was to maintain it. But it had 
served its purpose, and was soon to be succeeded by 
a system more perfectly adapted to a free people. 

The great advance in the popular apprehension 
of free institutions at this period is indicated by a. 


T617 remarkable paper, adopted hj Hanover Presby- 
tery Kovember 11, 1774, and presented to the As* 
sembly of June, 1776. In die year 1773 the Assem- 
bly had ordered to be printed for circnlation a 
Toleration Bill which was proposed, that the sense 
of the people upon it might be had. Hie Presby- 
tery, composed for the most part of the Scotch-Irish 
settlers in the Colony, on behalf of themseLves and 
all other dissenters, in a paper c^ great ability, pro- 
tested against some of tlw features of the proposed 
bill as restrictive oi religions liberty, and prayed, 
" for that freedom in speaking and writing npon re> 
li^oos subjects, which is allowed by law to every 
member of the British Empire in dvil adSairs, and 
which has long been so friendly to the oanse of lib- 

This is the first distinct demand for religions lib- 
erty made at the bar of the Assembly by any body 
of Christians in Virginia, and was the begioning of 
a struggle which finally ended in the absolute di- 
vorce of Church and State, and the establishment of 
perfect religious liberty. It prevented the passage 
of the proposed bill against which it was aimed. 

On July 17, following, the third Virginia Con- 
vention assembled at Richmond, composed of mem- 
bers elected before the late meeting of the Assem- 
bly. Among them was George Mason, of Fairfax, 
elected in the place of Washington, and now for the 
first time appearing in the councils of the Colony, 
into which he had been forced by his constituents. 
He at once took rank among the foremost of Virginia 
statesmen. Mr. Jefferson has sketched him, as he 

' TUb inteiestiag p*pei wu printed in the OenlnJ PruV^atian, Riob- 
mODd, Ym., Vaj 16, 1888. 


appeared a few jean later, in these striking worda: 
** A maa of the flnt order of wisdtnn among those 
who acted on the theatm of the BerolotuHt, of es>> 
paneiTe miod, proEoond jadgment, eogent in argn* 
meat, learned in the lore of onr former oonstitntioD, 
and earnest for the repabUean change on demoomtia 
prindplea. His eloontion was neither flowing nor 
smooth ; bat his language was stzong, hia manner 
most impresuTe, and strengthened by a dash of bit^ 
ing eynieianif when proTocation made it seasonablA*' 
James Hadison prononuoed him the ablest man u 
debate he had everseen. fle-was of aristocratio sA* 
cestry, a wealthy and systematic planter, devoted to 
stady, but indifferent to the temptations of political 
ambition, and withal a man of the pnrest charsctw. 
His appearance was striking. With an athletic 
iraxae^ and a grave but handsome face lighted up 
by brilliant black eyes, he had a oommanding prea* 
ence and lofty bearing. When he took his seat in 
the Convention he was forty-nine years of age, hia 
black hair was slightiy frosted, and his appearance 
indicated a recent straj^le with his inveterate en- 
emy, the gout From their first meeting a warm 
friendship existed between him and Mr. Henry, 
which was never interrupted, and which was 
strengthened by their agreement upon many of the 
vital questions which ai*ose during their public ser^ 

The Convention found the Governor not only ab^ 
sent from his poet, but threatening war upon the 
colony. They determined at once to take up the 
reins of government, and to place the Colony in 
a state of defence. Their acts w^e no longer in 
the form of recommendations, as f (wmerly, bat took 


the shape of ordinances, and were diBonased and 
passed with the formalities of Acts of Anembly. It 
was determined to raise, and embody nnder proper 
officers, a sufficient armed force for ihe defence and 
protection of the Colony, lliree r^ments of one 
thonsand men each were first determined on, and in 
addition, five companies, aggr^ating four hondred 
and twenty-five men, to be posted along the western 
border. On August 5, the Convention altered 
upon the election of general officers for the regi' 
mentd. Mr. Henry had not then returned fnnn 
Philadelphia, but it was understood that he desired 
a military command. His friends nominated h™ 
for colonel of the first r^;iment, it having been de- 
termined that this officer should be the oommandeT' 
in-chief of the forces to be raised. The opposition 
united on Captain Hugh Mercer, of Fredericksbui^, 
who had served with great distinction under Wash- 
ington in the French and Indian War of 1765. It 
is no wonder that men with so much at stake should 
have hesitated to place in command of their entire 
forces a man of no military experience, however 
great his abilities as a civilian. Besides this hesita- 
tion, which Mr. Henry's warmest friends might have 
felt, there was still remaining in the breasts of some 
of the old leaders somewhat of the jealousy with 
which they at first regarded him, when in 1765, pw 
saltum-y he became the foremost man in the Colony. 
The first ballot stood for Hugh Mercer 41, for Pat- 
rick Henry 40, for Thomas Nelson 8, and for Will- 
iam Woodford 1. 

The second ballot between the two highest re- 
sulted in the election of Mr. Henry. . Notwith- 
standing the close vote, the result was a remarkable 


tribnte to Mr. Henry. Both Meroer and Woodford 
were officers of experience and ability, and nothing 
bat the conriction of the majority, that the qnoli- 
ties which had made Mr. Henry a great political 
leader would make him a great military leader 
also, can explain thdr actiim in preferring him as 
tiie commander-in-chief of the Vii^inia forces.* 

Thomas Nelson was then elected colonel of the 
second, and William Woodford colonel of the third 
regiment Nelson declined the appointment, and 
Woodford was put in his place, and it was after- 
wards determined to raise only two r^ments. 

On August 9, the Journal states tliat " Patrick 
Henry, Edmund Pendleton, Benjamin Harriscm and 
Thomas Jefferson, Esquires, appeared in Conrention 
and took their seats ; and ^e gentlemen appointed 
to represent their counties, during their necessary ab- 

' A writer In the publto prink over tha algiutiii* of " Cato," who otI- 
dantlj had not been an adrooftte of Mr. Heiii7'a eleotioQ, afbarwud fara 
tbe following aooonnt of the droamatanoea attending It. (See Amailaaa 
AnhiTCB, 4tli Beilea, toL 1*.. 1619.) "It wm objaot«d to Mr. Henir, 
that hU itodiei had been dlraoted to dvU and not mUitaij pimnita ; 
that he wm totall; tmaoquainted with Uie art of war, and had no knoiri- 
edge of milltaiy diadpUae ; and that inch a petaon wm y«rj nn&t to be 
at the head of troopa who were llkal; to be engaged agalnit a well dlaoi- 
plined army, oomroanded by ezperienoed and able geneiala. Theae oh-, 
jaotdona ware anawerad by one genUeman, who tald that Mr. Hen^ 
BoUdted the appointment, which ha anppoaed Hr. Haniy would not hare 
dona If he did not think himaelf qtiallQed to oommand. Hr. Heroer waa 
objeoted to for being a North- Briton. In anawei to thia objeotUn It waa 
admitted that Mi. Meroer waa bom in BooUand, bat that he oama to 
AmerlcM In hia earlj Taara, and had oonatantlj reaided In it troni Ua flrat 
oomlng over ; that hia family and all hia other oonneotiona were in thia 
Colonj ; that he had nniformlj diatlngolahed hlmaalf a warm and Arm 
friend to the rlghta of America ; and what was of prindpal eoiuldera- 
tion, that he poMeaaed great milltarr as well aa Utararr abilities Mr. 
Nelson acknowledged Hr. Meroer'a military abilltlea, declared he wonld 
not oppoee hi> appolntmeoi, and hoped he bimaelf would not be Totad 
for. Mr. Woodford, who waa not at that time of tha ConreDtion. apoka 
vary largely without doors in faroi of Ui. Maroer, daolaiad ha waa wlll- 
ing to serve nuder him, aa he knew Urn to be a fine offioec" 

S14 PATEaoK hbnbt: 

BCDce retired." It is probable thmt tiiey camo from 
Philadelphia directly to Bichmond, taking a week to 
make the trip. Ridiard Henry Lee did not appear 
in his seat till two days later. The preaenoe o£ these 
distingutBhed men had a happy efEect upon the delib- 
erations of the Convention, which had not been har- 
monious, and is donbUesB alluded to in the letter of 
Geoige Mason to General Washington of October 
14, following,* in which he writes: "I hinted to 
you in my last the partses and factions which pre- 
vailed at Bichmond. I never was in so disagreea- 
ble a sitnation, and almoat dispaired of a cause 
which I saw so ill conducted. During the first part 
of the Convention, parties ran so high that we had 
frequently no other way of preventing improper 
measures, than by procrastination, nrging the pre- 
vious question, and giving men time to reflect. 
However, after some weeks, the babblers were pretty 
well silenced, a few weighty membei's began to take 
the lead, several wholesome regulations were made, 
and, if the Convention had continued to sit a few 
days longer, I think the public safety would have 
been as well provided for, as our present circum- 
stances permit." 

As WaBhington and Henry by reason of their 
military appointments, and Pendleton by reason of 
his feeble health, could no longer serve in Congress, 
the Convention in reappointing the delegation, 
placed Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Nelson, and 
George Wythe in their stead, and when Bichard 
Bland asked to be excused on account of his ad- 
vanced age, Francis Lightfoot Lee was put in his 

< Writing! of VHhington, iil., IN. 


The flight of tiie Governor liad left the CSolony 
withoat ezecative aathoiity, and the CoDTentioii, 
adoptang the recommendation of GongreBa, appointed 
" a Ckimmittee of Safety for the more affet^al carry- 
ing into ezecntion the aereral rules and regolationa 
established by this Convention for the poteotdxMi of 
this CSolony," whose duties were defined by an ordi- 
nance reported by a committee of which Hr. Henry 
was a member. The men selected for this impor- 
tant trust were, Edmund Pendleton, George Haaon, 
John Page, tUchard Bland, Thomas Lndwell Lee, 
Patil Garrington, Dudley Digges, William Oabell, 
Carter Braxton, James Mercer and John Tabb.* 

Interesting incidents of the Convention during the 
elections of the delegation to Congress and of the 
Committee of Safety, are related by George Mason, 
in a letter to his intimate friend Martin Cockbum, 
dated August 22, 1775. After relating his recov- 
ery from a spell of sickness, he adds: 

" I have found my apprehensions in being sent to 
this Convention but too well verified. B^ore the 
choice of delegates for the ensuing Congress, I was 
personally applied to by more than two-3iirds of the 
members, insisting upon my serving at the Congress, 
but by assuring them I could not possibly attend, 
I prevailed on them not to name me, except about 
twenty who would take no excuse. A day or two 
after, upon Colonel Bland's resignation, a strong 
party was formed, at the head of which were Colonel 
Henry, Mr. Jefferson and Colonel Garrington, for 
sending me to Congress at all events, laying it down as 
a rale uiat I would not refuse, if ordered by my coun- 
try : in consequence of this just before the ballot I 

■ Thia saparMded Qm CommltitM of CORMpondenao. 


was ptibliclj called upon in GoDTOition and obliged 
to make a public excuse, and give my reasons for 
refusal, in doing which I felt myself more distressed 
than ever I was in my life, especially when I saw 
tears run down the Presidents* cheeks. I took 
occaeaon at the same time, to recommend Colonel 
Francis Lee, who was accordingly chosen in the 
place of Colonel Bland. Bat my ^[etting clew of 
this appointment has availed me little, as I have 
been smce, in spite of everything I conld do to the 
contrary, put upon the Committee of Safety, which 
is even moi-e inconvenient and dis^;reeable to me 
than going to the Congress. I endeavored to ex- 
cuse myself, and be^ed the Convention wonld per- 
mit me to resitrn, but was answered by an universal' 

On the day after Mr. Henry took his seat, the 
Convention ordered the gunpowder bought by him 
for the use of the Colony to be immediately sent for ; 
and at a later day, the quantity of gunpowder taken 
out of the magazine by Lord Dunmore was ascer- 
tained to be fifteen half-barrels, and its value to be 
one hundred and twelve pounds ten shillings, and 
the residue of the three hundred and thirty pounds 
collected by Mr. Henry of the Receiver-General was 
ordered to be returned to him by the treasurer. 

On August 14, the Convention, on being in- 
foimed that Lord Duomore was meditating an at- 
tack upon Williamsburg, directed the Committee 
for that city to repel the attack with the volunteers, 
who had already assembled there in large force, and 
to call out the militia if need be in addition. Thus 
the Convention stood strictly on the defensive, 
though under the strongest provocation, and finding 

' Pe;Um Bandolph. 


it difficult to restrain the ardor of the peoplo. 
Early in the Bession the Tolnnteer companies in 
Williamsburg had informed the body, that detach- 
ments had been sent ont to seise the pnblio moneys in 
the hands of the Beceiver-General, naval officers, and 
other collectors for the King, and the Convention had 
ordered them to desist from their purpose, and this 
policy was strictiiy porsned in all thor wdinancea. 
But the preparations for defence were as oomplete 
as the circamstances of the Colony permitted. 

Bendes the raiments and battalions called ont at 
once, eight thousand one hundred and eighty of tfae 
the militia were ordered to be enlisted, officered, 
armed, and equipped, as minote men, and strictly 
trained to proper discipline ; and the balance of the 
militia were ordered to be armed, equipped, and 
trained, so as to be ready for service. Rules and 
regulations for the government of the army were 
adopted. A manufactory of arms was ordered to 
be established at Fredericksbui^, and measures were 
taken to encourage the manufacture of ammunition. 
To meet the expense to be incurred, the issue of pa- 
per money to the extent of three hundred and fifty 
thousand pounds was ordered, and an annual tax im- 
posed for its redemption. Regulations were also 
adopted for the election of committeemen in the sev- 
eral counties and corporations, and the election of 
delegates to subsequent conventiona Upon a me- 
morial from the Baptists, representing that many of 
that denomination had already enlisted, and many 
more wei-e ready to do so, and asking the liberty of 
preaching to the troops, the Convention, on motion 
of Mr. Henry, ordered that this privilege be given 
to all dissenting clergymen. Thus Mr. Henry ap- 


peared in the advance guard of the movement in 
favor of religious liberty. 

The Convention adjourned August 26, after 
adopting unanimously an address setting forth the 
cause of their meeting, and the necessity of imme- 
diately putting the colony in a complete state of de- 
fence, in order to meet the threatened attack from 
the armed vessels in their harbors, and from the In- 
dians on their western frontier who were being in- 
cited by the English to commence a savage warfare, 
and reiterating their allegiance to George IIL as 
their lawful and rightful king. This admirable ad- 
dress concludes in the following words: "It re- 
mains a bounden duty on us to commit our cause 
to the justice of that Supreme Being who ruleth and 
ordereth all human events with unerring wisdom, 
most humbly beseeching him to take this colony, 
and the whole continent, under his fatherly and di- 
vine protection, and that he will be graciously 
pleased to soften the hearts of all those who medi- 
tate evil against our land, and inspire them with the 
purest sentiments of justice, moderation and broth- 
erly affection." 

Upon the adjournment of the Convention Colonel 
Henry returned to his home to arrange his domestic 
affairs before taking the field. Early in the year 
he had experienced the heaviest of domestic afflic- 
tions in the loss of his estimable wife. She left six 
children, all under twenty-one years of age. Their 
names were Martha, Anne, Elizabeth, John, Will- 
iam, and Edward. Martha had married John Fon- 
taine, and had taken charge of the younger children 
daring her father's absences, and to her they were 



In lew than one uumth Colimel Henry set out ior 
his oommand, which had been ordered tp rendemnu 
at WiUiamabarg. The intelligenoe of his appoint- 
ment had brought together a lai^ body of v<^iiii- 
teers, and there had been no difficulty in filling the 
two regiments. The men oame tog^her in TariouB 
uniforms, or without nniforms, and mostly armed 
with their own fowling-pieoes. A company from 
Gitlpeper Connty was one of the most oonspicnooa. 
They were dressed in green hnnting^diirts, with the 
words " Liberty or Death " in large white letters on 
their breasts, bucktails in tiieir hats, and scalping- 
knires and tomahawks in their belts. Their flag 
displayed the significant device of a coiled rattle- 
snake, with the motto, " Don't tread on me." In a 
company from Fauqnier County there appeared a 
young lieutenant, only nineteen years of ^e, who at 
once arrested the attention and excited the interest 
of every beholder. He was about six feet high, 
straight, and rather slender, of dark complexion, 
with a face nearly a circle in its outline, with eyes 
dark to blackness, penetrating, and beaming with 
intelligence and good-nature, over which an upright 
forehead, rather low, was terminated in a horizontal 
line by a mass of raven black hair of unusnal thick- 
nesa No one could doubt that the stripling, if 
spared, would make his mark, but no one dreamed 
that this boy-soldier, Lieutenant John Marshall, was 
destined to become Chief Justice of the. United 
States, and the greatest of . American jm-ists. 

Colonel Henry was received with enthusiasm by 
his troops, as was chronicled in the Gazette of Sep- 
tember 33, 1776, which noted his arrival in the fol- 
lowing manner : ** Thursday last arrived here Fat- 


rick Henry Esq. commander-in-chief of the Vir- 
ginia forces. He was met and escorted to town by 
the whole body of volunteers, who paid him every 
mark of respect and distinction in their power, in 
testimony of their approbation of so worthy a gen- 
tleman to the appointment of that important trust, 
which the convention has been pleased to repose in 
hinou" He chose for his encampment the ground 
back of the college, and having formed the men in- 
to two regiments the officers commenced driUing 
them in company and regimental tactics. The con- 
nl^ vention had appointed William Christian, lieuten- 
ant-colonel, and Francis Eppes, major, to the first 
regiment, and Charles Scott, lieutenant-colonel, and 
Alexander Spots wood, major, to the second regi- 
ment The appointment of Colonel Christian was 
doubtless at the request of Colonel Henry, to whom 
his military experience and strong personal attach- 
ment made him of the greatest value. A quorum 
of the Committee of Safety, presided over by Ed- 
mund Pendleton, remained in Williamsburg, and 
controlled the organization and movements of the 

The second petition of the Continental Congress to 
the King was delivered to. Lord Dartmouth on Au- 
gust 21, by Goveraor Richard Penn, who had sailed 
as a special messenger to carry it. The only an. 
swer it received was a proclamation, issued two days 
afterward, declaring the colonists in rebellion, de- 
nouncing those within the realm who sympathized 
with them, and calling upon all officers and loyal sub- 
jects to use their endeavors to suppress the rebellion, 
and to give full information of all persons correspond- 
ing with the persons in arms in America, that they 



might be brought to condign punishment. News of 
this proclamation, and of the hiring of ten thousand 
Hanoverians to be added to the British forces in 
America, reached Philadelphia October 31, and was 
published in the newspapers of the next day. The 
Congress, then in session, were relieved of all doubt 
as to their duty by this declaration of war, and at 
once adopted measures for its vigorous conduct on 
their part. 

In Virginia, Lord Dunmore had already entered 
upon a most irritating system of depredations, 
designed to drive the colony from its defensive 
attitude. He had gathered a flotilla, composed of 
the Mercury, of twenty-four guns ; the Kingfisher, of 
sixteen ; the Otter, of fourteen ; and a number of 
smaller vessels. With this fleet the large portion 
of the colony bordering on the Chesapeake and its 
tributaries was completely at his mercy, and the 
people were continually plundered, and their slaves 
carried off. Early in September, Captain Squire, of 
the Otter, sailing in a tender on a marauding expe- 
dition, was caught in a storm and driven on shore 
upon Back River, near Hampton. The captain and 
his men were entertained by a Mr. Finn, near by, to 
whom they abandoned the vessel and stores, and, 
unwilling to trust themselves among a people whom 
they had injured, they made their escape through 
the woods. Soon after, a formal demand was made 
by Captain Squire upon the people of Hampton for 
a restitution of the abandoned vessel and stores, with 
a threat aofainst the town in case the demand was 
not complied with. Information of this threat was 
at once conveyed to Williamsburg, and the Commit- 
tee of Safety ordered Captain James Innes with one 



handled men to march for the defence td the place. 
The attack was thereupon deferred, and Captam 
Squire contented himaelf with eeiiing all veaseb be- 
longing to Hampton which came in hia way. The 
Kingfiaher, stationed near Norfolk, and the Otter, 
stationed near Newport'a News, now stopped all paaa- 
ing boats, and subjected the crews and passengers to 
the greatest indignities, while the smaller Teaaels 
continued to make marauding expeditious, and were 
especially troublesome to the people of Norfolk and 
Princess Anne Countiee. 

Colonel Henry was restive nnder this condition 
of affairs. The Committee of Safety was the ezecn- 
tive of the Colony, and had the direction of themili- 
taiy force nused by the Convention. This force was 
being organized aad equipped at Williamsburg, and 
was not yet folly armed, nor properly supplied with 
ammunition, and it was important that the capital 
should be protected by it. It was apparent, how- 
ever, that unless the people in the vicinity of Nor- 
folk were protected that section of the Colony would 
be lost, and the danger was the more imminent from 
the fact that the Scotch merchants of Norfolk were 
Tories, and wielded considerable inflaence. Colonels 
Henry and Woodford, believing enough men could 
be safely spared, urged upon the Committee the im- 
portance of sending a force at once to the vicinity of 
Norfolk which would protect the inhabitants. The 
Committee, after considerable hesitation, yielded to 
this advice, and on October 25 the following paper 
was handed to Colonel Henry : 

" In ooiiunlt;t«« at WUlumsbatg the 34, Oatobai ITTS. 

" The committee having spent several days in de- 
liberating upon the present state of Norfolk and 


the inhabitanto of the adjacent counties from the 
various representations and information given them 
thereof, and the examination of several witnesses. 
"Whereapon it appears, among other acts of violence, 
that Lord Dunmore and the officers of the navy, not 
only harbonred divers slaves who resorted to them, 
bat had actually seized by force one woman slave, 
and various other private property, and seized and 
carried on board the ships of war several freemen. 
Having also had evidence of the state of the two 
regiments and Golpeper Battalion, and heard Col. 
Henry, CoL Woodiord, and Col. Lawrence Taliaferro 
on the subject, it is therenpon, Resolved, that the 
second regiment and the Gulpeper Battalion of min- 
ute men with the officers belonging to each ought to 
mai'ch to the neighborhood of Norfolk or Ports- 
mouth, and after reconnoitering the ground and ex- 
amining all necessary circumstances, the command- 
ing officer is desired to form an encampment at such 
place as to him shall seem most convenient, and 
secure the same in the best manner. That their 
march be as sooa as tents and all other necessaiies 
can be provided. Capt Mathews's company of min- 
ute men to be retained, and the commanding officer 
may call in other minute men upon any extraordi- 
nary emergency. It is meant that such only shall 
march who have good arms, those of the second 
Regiment as have not arms to remain at head- 
quarters tni they can be furnished, and then join 
their regiment, as also the absent companies of the 
said Regiment as soon as they shall come to camp. 
If it shall be found necessary hereafter another 
camp may be formed in the same neighborhood, 

Jno. Pbndleton jun. elk. com : 


Before anything could be done to execute this 
order Captain Squire again appeared before Hampton 
with an armed schooner, a sloop, and three tenders, 
with soldiers aboard, and notified the people that 
he was about to land to burn the town. A com- 
pany of regulars under Captain George Nicholas,* 
from Elizabeth City, and a company of minute men 
under Captain Lyne, from King and Queen county, 
were now stationed in the town, and these repulsed 
the force under Captain Squire which attempted to 
land on October 26. Indications pointing to a re- 
newal of the attack on the next day, a message was 
sent at once to Williamsburg, and Colonel Woodford 
was sent down with Captain Green's company of 
riflemen from Culpeper,* who arrived about 8 o'clock 
in the morning, just in time to take part in the re- 
pulse of the second attempt upon the town. The 
British met with some loss, but the Virginians had 
not a man wounded. This was the first conflict of 
the Revolution on Virginia soil ; and by a curious 
coincidence it occurred at the same place at which, 
one hundred and sixty-eight years before, the first 
conflict between the English and Indians had taken 

The Virginia troops behaved with the greatest 
firmness in this affair, and their victory cheered the 
hearts of the people, who had become discouraged 
by the unchecked depredations of Lord Dunmoi-e. 
His Lordship was maddened by the discomfiture of 

1 The fion of the Treasurer, and afterward greatly distingiiiBhed as a 

* Captain John Green dbtingaished himself afterward at Brand jwine 
and Guilford. He was the father of John W. Green, the distinguished 
judge of the Virginia Court of Appeals, whose son, William Green, lately 
dead, was one of the most learned scholars and lawyers of his times, or 
of any times. 


his cAptaiD, and now fully developed his plans for 
the destruction of the Colony he still claimed to 

On Kovember 6, he commissioned the notorious 
John Connolly as alieutenaat'Colonel of the Queen's 
Royal Bangers, and sent him on a secret mission to 
the Indiana to incite them to an attack upon the 
western frontier, contrary to the stipulations of his 
treaty with them. After stirring up a savage war, 
this unscrupulous agent was to gather a force of 
Canadians at Detroit, and coming by Pittsbui^ was 
to march to Alexandria, where Lord Dunmore was 
to meet him, and by strongly fortifying that place 
cut off communication between the northern and 
southern colonies. The capture of Connolly, while 
passing through Maryland, exposed and thwarted 
this scheme.^ 

On November 7, he issued a proclamation, 
printed on board the ship William, on a press that 
he had taken by force from Norfolk, declaring 
martial law throughout the Colony; requiring all 
persons capable of bearing arms to resort to his 
Majesty's standard under penalty of forfeiture of 
life and property ; and declaring freedom to all in- 
dentured servants, negroes, and others, appertaining 
to rebels, who would join him for the reduction of 
the Colony. This appeal was addressed to criminals 
serving out their terms of punishment, and to a 
barbarous race, many of whom were fresh from the 
wilds of Africa, who formed the majority of the 
population on tide-water. This fiendish plan of 
inciting the blacks against the whites and endanger- 
ing the home of every planter, had been concocted 
■ Ameiioan ATchiTM, 4Ui 8«ilaa, Ir. , 815-17. 


with General Gage and General Howe through the 
agency of Connolly, and was believed to have the 
approbation of the King. " I hope," said Dunmore, 
" it will oblige the rebels to disperse to take care of 
their families and property."^ The effect of this 
proclamation was to unite the people of Virginia as 
nothing else could have done; men of all ranks 
resenting " the pointing of a dagger to their throats 
through the hands of their slaves." * In the counties 
of Norfolk and Princess Anne, which were at his 
mercy, Dunmore forced the people to leave their 
homes, or take an oath abjuring the authority of the 
Committee, the Convention, and the Congress, and 
declaring allegiance to the King. He now had a 
force consisting of two companies of the 14th Regi- 
ment of regulars, from St. Augustine, and a body 
of negroes and Tories. With these he took up a 
position at Kemp's Landing, on the east branch of 
the Elizabeth River, surprised and captured a body 
of minute men from Princess Anne under Colonel 
Hutchings, and threatened Suffolk. 

Colonel Woodford marched from Williamsburg, 
early in November, with the Second Regiment and 
a detachment of minute men, altogether estimated at 
about seven hundred men, and being prevented by 
the men-of-war from getting more than eight com- 
panies across the river at Jamestown, he was forced 
to march up as high as Sandy Point * in order to 
cross the balance of his force. He reached Suffolk 
in time to relieve it from a threatened attack, and 
continuing his march, he found the force of Lord 

'Bancroft, viiL,223. 

' Letter of Archibald Gary, Southern Literary Magazine for 1858, p. 186. 
' The home originally occupied by Colonel Philip Lightf oot, the ances- 
tor of Oeneral Henry Lee. 


Danmore entrenched at the Great Bridge, a stmct- 
ure over the aonth branch of the Elizabeth River 
about twelve miles from Norfolk. Here on Decem- 
ber 9, Hia Lordship, deceived as to Woodford's 
strength by a servant of Major Marshall,^ who had 
deserted, or feigned deserHon, gave battle with some 
two hundred regulars and three hundred negroes 
and Tories. He was defeated with considerable loss, 
while the Vixginians, who fought behind breast- 
works, had only one man wonnded.* 

The deadly rifles of Captain Green's Culpeper 
men, every one of whom was a marksman, con- 
tributed greatly to this victory, as they bad done 
to the victory at Hampton. The victors were so 
humane in their treatment of the wounded as to 
excite the admiration of the British officers,' who 
now realized, despite the misrepresentation of Dun- 
more, that the Virginians were a brave and gener- 
ous people. 

Lord Dunmore fell back to Norfolk, and Colonel 
Howe having joined Woodford with a regiment of 
North Carolina troops, his Lordship deemed it 
most prudent to retire to his ships, leaving the 
negroes he had induced to take up arms to shift for 

His Lordship did not enjoy his dominion on the 
water anmolested however. Captain James Barron, 
of Hampton, in October had armed and eqoipped a 
fast pilot-boat, and was annoying greatly the 
smaller vessels of Bunmore's fleet, and captaring the 

' F&ther of Lientenant Muaball. Both ireie in the battle. 

* Antam of Colonel Wctodfotd, Deoember 10, 1775, pnts hia Htiongth 
at 491 nmk and tile St (or dut;, beeidea 179 CbtoIuib men jiut arrived. 

' MS. Lettei of Colonel Woodfoid, December 10, 1795, to the Conven- 



unarmed supply vessels which came in his way. 
The hostile fleet was thus forced to get its supplies 
from Norfolk or its vicinity. A demand for these 
from the town having been refused, the enraged 
Governor, on January 1, 1776, opened a heavy 
cannonade upon it, and set fire to the houses nearest 
the wharf, by which nine-tenths of the town was 
burned. It had a thriving population of six thous- 
and, and was the largest town in the colony. Its 
wanton destruction, causing the exposure of its in- 
habitants in midwinter, embittered the people of 
Virginia more than ever against the man they had 
now learned to look upon as their greatest enemy. 
But notwithstanding the great provocation under 
which they labored, the true nobility of the Virgin- 
ians was shown in their forbearance to make re- 
prisals upon the property of Lord Dunmoi*e, or of 
the Tories living in the Colony. In November the 
Committee prohibited any one from making reprisals 
on his property left at the Palace, until the Conven- 
tion should determine what was proper ; and the 
Convention, on December 14, resolved, "that no 
person be allowed to make reprisals on the property 
of Lord Dunmore in this Colony for their property 
seized by him, or by the navy, without the order of 
the Convention." During the same month the Com- 
mittee " ordered that Colonel Henry be at liberty to 
give directions to the keeper of the public gaol for 
the discharge of James, a mulatto slave belonging to 
Lord Dunmore." The Convention also, by a special 
resolution, protected the persons and property of 
British merchants, factors, and agents, who did not 
take part against the Colony, and allowed those who 
exhibited enmity to leave the Colony unmolested* 


The iDhumanity of DiiDmore was aignally rebuked 
by the Convention in their kind treatment of some of 
bis own countrymen, who were brought into great 
distress. A ship from Cameron, in Scotland, with 
aboQt two hundred and fifty emigrants bound for 
Newbern, North Carolina, was obliged to put into 
the port of Norfolk by reason of bad weather, 
Lord Dunmore forced about one hundred and sixty 
of the men into his service, and when he evacuated 
the town he took their ship, and left the women 
and children to perish in a strange land. The men 
deserted him, and on their appeal to the Convention, 
Colonel Woodford was ordered to take the whole 
company under his protection, relieve their imme- 
diate wants, and aid them in getting to their place 
of destination. 

Colonel Henry's force remaining at Williamsburg 
was increased by several companies of minute men 
ordered out by the Committee, so that he was en- 
abled to station troops at the several points liable 
to attack, in any efEort of Lord Dunmore's to carry 
out his well-known intention to move upon the 
capital. Part of his forces were stationed at Bur- 
well's Ferry, Jamestown, Hampton, and Yorktown, 
while he retained a company at Williamaburg. By 
this disposition of his troops he had it in his power 
to concentrate the whole in a few hours at Will- 
iamsburg, or at any point at which Lord Dunmore 
might land. _ Lfifj^Jllf 

Colonel Christian had brought his wife with him 
to VVilllamsburg and she took charge of her 
brother's headquarters. Soon their sister, Eliza> 
beth Henry, joined them and was a toast among 
the young officers. She was twenty-six years old. 


above medium height, with a most attractive face 
and imposing presence. Both in person and intel- 
lect she resembled her brother. She had the same 
fertile and vivid imagination, the same ready com- 
mand of language and aptness of illustration, the 
same flexibility of voice and grace of elocution, and 
the same play of features expressive of every phase 
of feeling. 

Among those who brought companies to Will- 
iamsburg was Captain William Campbell, from the 
Holston settlement in Fincastle County. He was 
of a superb physique, six feet two inches high, 
straight and soldierly in his bearing, quiet and 
polished in his manners, and always deferential and 
chivalric toward women. He had the fair com- 
plexion and blue eyes which betokened his Scotch 
descent. He had been associated with Colonel 
Christian in the Dunmore expedition against the 
Indians, and was destined to do his country great 
sei*vice in the war upon which they were entering. 
He was welcomed to the society of Colonel Henry's 
family at once, and it was not long before an attach- 
ment was formed between himself and Elizabeth 
Henry, which resulted in their marriage the ensuing 
spring. The only child of this marriage was Sarah 
Buchanan, who married General Francis Preston. 
Her descendants have been remarkable for elo- 
quence, the most celebrated among them being her 
oldest son, William Campbell Preston. Mrs. Camp- 
bell afterward married General William Russell, 
and by her talents and practical piety became known 
as the Lady Huntingdon of Virginia.^ 

' ▲ aketoh of her life has been published by her grandson, CoL Thomas 
Ik Pteston. 



Convention of December, 1775. — ^War Measures. — Treatment of 
Colonel Henry by the Committee of Safety. — Colonel Wood- 
ford Refuses to Report to Him. — Scope of Colonel Henry's 
Commission. — ^The Question Left to the Committee of Safety. 
— Its Compromise. — ^Virginia Troops Transferred to Congress. 
— ^New Commission Ofibred Colonel Henry, Lowering His 
Rank. — He Refuses to Accept It. — Excitement Produced by 
His Action. — His Course Applauded by His Officers and Men. 
— Publications in the Gazette, — Pendleton Blamed. 

The Convention had assembled December 1, 1775, 
at Richmond, and adjourned to Williamsburg, 
where it continued its session till January 20, fol- 
lowing. The body realized the fact that the Colony 
had been forced into a bloody war by its Governor, 
whose intercepted correspondence showed that he 
was asking for a large force with which to seize the 
capital and subdue the Colony. An ordinance was 
passed for raising and equipping seven additional 
regiments. Five hundred riflemen were ordered to 
be sent for the protection of the counties of Acco- 
mack and Northampton, lying east of the Chesa- 
peake Bay, and the Committee of Safety was di- 
rected to provide the armed vessels necessary to 
protect the several rivers of the Colony. The Con- 
vention made a stinging reply to Lord Dunmore's 
proclamation of November 7, and exposed the 
meanness and cruelty of his Lordship's conduct 
with an unsparing hand. 

On January 30, 1776, the Convention adopted a 
resolution, calling on their delegation in Congress to 
uige the opening of the American ports to the trade 
of the worldf except that of Great Britain, Ireland, 
and the West Indies. The same day they passed 
ordinances for punishing the enemies of America ; 
for taking charge of the public money, except the 
King's quit-rents ; for the election of del^ates to 
future Conventions ; and for regulating payments in 
tobacco ; and thereupon ad joomed. 

During the session an interesting incident oc- 
curred, which illustrated the promptness of Colonel 
Hemy to repair to the post of danger, and the 
readiness of ^e venerable men who composed the 
body to take up arms in defence of the capitaL In 
the supplement of the Virginia Gazette of January 
5, 1776, the follomng account is found : 

" Yesterday afternoon an express arrived from 
York, with intelligence that two topmast vessels, 
and one of a smaller size, had hove in sight, which 
were suspected to be two men of war and a tender, 
coming up to cannonade that town ; upon which 
Capt. Gibson with his West Augusta boys were 
immediately ordered to reinforce the troops sta- 
tioned there, and prevent any of Dunmore s hell- 
hounds from landing to set fire to the houses. 
Many gentlemen volunteers likewise went fi-om this 
city to assist their brethren of York ; and our 
worthy delegates then sitting in convention, formed 
themselves under that old intrepid warrior, Col. 
Andrew Lewis,' for the protection of the city. 
Cap* Gibson had marched but a little distance 
from town, when he was met by Col. Henry, 
from York, with the agreeable intelligence that the 

II of the Ooaveution fcom Botetourt. , 


two large vessels were one a provision vessel from 
Cork, deep laden with beef, butter, potatoes &c., 
the other from the Grenades loaded with rum, 
sugar and several other necessaries, and the small 
vessel the brave Cap* Barron's carrying them up 
the river out of the reach of the men of war." 

It has been stated that there was considerable op- 
position to the election of Colonel Henry as com- 
mander-in-chief of the Virginia forces, based upon 
his want of military experience. Among the oppo- 
sition were some of the most prominent members of 
the Convention, and of these several became mem- 
bers of the Committee of Safety. Mr. Pendleton, 
the president of the Committee, though not present 
when the election was held, was in full sympathy 
with the opposition. This feeling of distrust was 
carried into the Committee, and affected all their 
subsequent conduct in reference to Colonel Henry's 
command. After the Committee had organized and 
determined on the policy to be pursued, the con- 
duct of affairs was left almost entirely to a quorum, 
who w^ere greatly influenced by the president. 
George Mason, Colonel Henry's great friend, was 
but little with the Committee, and, owing to poor 
health, did not attend the Convention of December 
1775.^ It was not long before this feeling of dis- 
trust was made manifest to Colonel Henry, in a 
manner well calculated to wound him deeply. 

When it was determined to send a force to the 
vicinity of Norfolk against Lord Dunmore, Colonel 
Woodford was selected for the expedition although 
Colonel Henry earnestly desired the command, and 

> Vide his letter to Washington of April 2, 1776, American Archiyes, 4th 
Series, v. 760. 


upon the attack at Hampton, before Colonel Wood- 
ford had marched, he was again preferred over his 
ranking officer, and sent to conduct the defence. 
These acts were unmistakable, but as if to leave no 
doubt on the mind of Colonel Henry that the Com- 
mittee did not mean to trust him with any enter- 
prise, on November 8, he was ordered to prepare 
winter quarters for his regiment at Williamsburg.^ It 
had become apparent that the troops of the several 
Colonies would be taken into Continental service, 
and the Committee seemed determined to trust no 
military operations to Colonel Henry until this was 
done, when his commission would be superseded, or 
a superior officer would be placed over him. While 
smarting under this slight, he was subjected to an 
indignity at the hands of Colonel Woodford, who 
ceased to report to him after he was sent against 
Lord Dunmore. Not understanding the reason for 
this. Colonel Henry sent an express on December 6, 
1775, with the following letter. 

" On Virginia Service. 
" To Williwin Woodford JSsq. Colonel of the Sec- 
ond Megiment of the Virginia Forces. 

^* Head Quabters, Deo. 6tb 1775^^ 

" Sir : Not hearing of any dispatch from you for a 
long time, I can no longer forbear sending to know 
your situation, and what has occurred. Every one, 
as well as myself, is vastly anxious to hear how all 
stands with you. In case you think any thing 
could be done to aid and forward the enterprise you 
have in hand, please to write it. But I wish to 

' MS. order of the Committee, with Colonel Henry's papers. 



know your sitaation particQlarly, with that of the 
enemy, that the whole may be laid before the eon* 
vention now here. The nmnber and designs of the 
enemy, as yon collect it, might open some prospects 
to us, that might enable us to form some diversion 
in your &vor. The bearer has orders^ to lose no 
time, and to return with all possible haste. I am 
sir. Your humble servant 

" P. Hekbt Juk. 

'^ P.S. Gap^ Alexander's company is not yet come. 

" Col. Woodfobd." 

To this Colonel Woodford made the following 

**0bbat Bimei^ 7^ Dta 1770. 

''Sir: I have received yours per express; in an- 
swer to which must inform you, that, understanding 
ou were out of town, I have not written you before 
ast Monday, by the return of the honourable the 
convention's express, when I ref eiTed you to my let- 
ter to them for every particular respecting mine and 
the enemy's situation. I wrote them again yester- 
day and this morning, which no doubt they will 
communicate to you, as commanding ofBcer of the 
troops at Williamsburg. When joined, I shall al- 
ways esteem myself immediately under your com- 
mand, and will obey accordingly ; but when sent 
to command a separate and distmct body of troops, 
under the immediate instruction of the comYnittee of 
safety — whenever that body or the honourable con- 
vention is sitting, I look upon it as my indispensable 
duty to address my intell^ence to them, as the su- 

Ereme power in this colony. If I judge wrong, I 
ope that honourable body will set me right. I 
would wish to keep up the greatest harmony be- 
tween us, for the good of the cause we are engaged 



in ; but cannot bear to be supposed to have neglected 
my duty, when I have done everything I conceived 
to be so. The enemy are strongly fortified on the 
other side of the bridge, and a great number of ne- 
groes and tones with them ; my prisoners disagree 
as to the numbers. We are situated here in mud 
and mire, exposed to every hardship that can be 
conceived, but the want of provisions, of which our 
stock is but small, the men suffering for shoes ; and 
if ever soldiers deserved a second blanket in any 
service, they do in this; our stock of ammunition 
much reduced, no bullet-moulds that were good for 
anything sent to run up our lead, till those sent the 
other day bv Mr. Page. If these necessaries and 
better arms had been furnished in time for this de- 
tachment, they might have prevented much trouble 
and great expense to this colony. Most of those 
arras I received the other day firom Williamsburg 
are rather to be considered as lumber, than fit to be 
put in men's hands, in the face of the enemy : with 
much repair, some of them will do ; with those, and 
what I have taken from the enemy, hope to be bet- 
ter armed in a few days. I have written to the con- 
vention, that it was my opinion that the greater 
part of the first regiment ought immediately to 
march to the scene of action witn some cannon, and 
a supply of ammunition, and every other necessary 
for war that the colony can muster, that a stop may 
be put to the enemy's progress. Aa to Carolina 
troops and cannon, they are by no means what I 
was made to expect : 60 of them are here and 100 
will be here to-morrow ; more, it is said, will follow 
in a few days under Col. Howe ; badly armed, can- 
non not mounted, no furniture to them. How long 
these people will choose to stay is impossible for me 
to say ; 99 in 100 of these lower people rank tori^. 
From all these informations, if you can make a di- 
version in my favor, it will be of service to the col- 


OD J, and very acceptable to mjrself and soldiers ; 
whom, if posaible, I will endeavor to keep easy un- 
der their hard daty, but begin to doubt whether it 
will be the case lone. 

" I am, Sir, Your humble servant, 

" W". WOODFOED." * 

In this letter it is seen that Colonel Woodford 
took the ground that Colonel Henry was only the 
commander of the troops at Williainsburg, where 
the first regiment or a part of it was stationed, but 
that being separated from him he was under no ob- 
ligation to report to him, and he therefore declined 
to do so. This position was assumed, and had been 
acted on by him, not only during the sessions of the 
Committee and of the Convention, but during the 
time which had intervened between the adjournment 
of the Committee in November, and the meeting of 
the Convention in December. Within a few days 
after the date of this letter Colonel Howe, of North 
Carolina, joined Colonel Woodford, and with his as- 
sent assumed command of their combined forces ; 
and thus Colonel Henry saw the authority which 
was denied to him, yielded to an officer of another 
Colony, who, also disregarding him, reported directly 
to the Committee or to the Convention. 

' Colonel WoodfoTd aeemi to bare bad Mine feelisif about Qte olaim of 
Colonel Henry wbioh extended to the men of the Gnit regiment. A part 
of this regiment waB ordered by the Convention to join him, but their re- 
cepbion wu ftojthiiig but cordial. Captain BoUud wbo commanded the 
men aent him, wrote to Colonel Henry, Deoembei 20, 177S, ' ' Oai reoep- 
tioQ at the Great Bridge was to tbe last degie« cool, and absolutely dia- 
agreeable. We arriTsd there fatigned, dry and bangiy, we were neither 
welcomed, invited to eat or drink, or shown a place to rest our wenried 
bones, bnt I thank my atara ramp datj has tanght oa how to proride for 
oareeWei when none will." 



Colonel Woodford's position was in direct conflict 
with the commission held by Colonel Henry, which 
was in the following words : 

" The Committee of safety for the Colony of Vir- 
ginia, to Patrick Henry, Esq. 

" Whereas^ by a resolution of the delegates of 
this colony, in convention assembled, it was deter- 
mined that you, the said Patrick Henry, Esq., 
should be colonel of the first regiment of regulars, 
and commander-in-chief of all the forces raised for 
the protection and defence of this colony ; and by 
an ordinance of the same convention it is provided 
that the committee of safety should issue all mili- 
tary commissions: now, in pursuance of the said 
power to us granted, and in conformity to the ap- 
pointment of the convention, we, the said commit- 
tee of safety, do constitute and commission you, the 
said Patrick Henry, Esq., colonel of the firat regi- 
ment of regulars, and commander-in-chief of all such 
other forces as may, by order of the convention, or 
committee of safety, be directed to act in conjunc- 
tion with them ; and with the said forces, or any of 
them, you are hereby empowered to resist and repel 
all hostile invasions, and quell and suppress any in- 
surrections which may be made or attempted against 
the peace and safety of this his majesty's colony and 
dominion. And We do require you to exert your 
utmost efforts for the promotion of discipline and or- 
der among the officers and soldiers under your com- 
mand, agreeable to such ordinances, i*ules, and ar- 
ticles, which are now, or hereafter may be, instituted 
for the government and regulation of the army ; and 
that you pay due obedience to all orders and in- 
structions which from time to time you may receive 
from the convention or committee of safety ; to hold, 
exercise, and enjoy, the said office of colonel and 
commander-in-chief of all the forces, to perform and 


execute the power and authority aforesaid, and all' 
other things which are truly and of right incidental 
to your said office, during the pleasure of the conven- 
tion and no longer. And we do hereby require and 
command all officers and soldiers and every person 
whatsoever, in any way concerned, to be obedient 
and assisting to you in all things, touching the due 
execution of this commission, according to the pur- 
port and intent thereof 

The only ground upon which Colonel Woodford 
could rely to sustain himself, in thus refusing to 
acknowledge the authority of his commander in 
chief, was a clause in the ordinance for raising and 
embodying the forces. It was in these words : 

" And whereas it may be necessary for the pub- 
lic security that the forces to be raised by virtue of 
this ordinance should, as occasion may require, be 
marched to different parts of the colony, and that 
the officers should be subject to a proper controul. 
Be it ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the 
officers and soldiers under such command shall in 
all things, not otherwise particularly provided for 
by this ordinance, and the articles established for 
their regulations, be under the controul, and sub- 
ject to the order of the General Committee of 

This was to be constnied along with the commis- 
sion of Colonel Henry as commander-in-chief of all 
the forces, which had been adopted by the Conven- 
tion, and issued by the Committee. The construc- 
tion which completely harmonized the two, was 
that the Committee, which, while the Convention 


was not in session, was the supreme authority in 
the Colony, had control of the military forces, but 
should communicate with them through the com- 
mander-in-chief, to whom all the officers should 
report. Othei-wise he was no longer commander-in- 
chief. This was the view taken by Colonel Henry, 
and he at once laid the letter of Colonel Woodford 
before the Committee of Safety, and insisted that 
he be required to report to him as his commanding 
officer. This placed the Committee in a most em- 
barrassing position. Colonel Woodford had won 
the brilliant victory of the Great Bridge two days 
after the date of his letter to Colonel Henry, and at 
once acquired a reputation which made it very in- 
judicious to offend him. Besides, he was from the 
same county with the president of the Committee, 
and was his intimate friend. Added to this was the 
fact, that his refusal to be subject to Colonel Henry 
was based upon his claim of direct subjection to 
the Committee, and that men are loath to refuse 
proffered authority. On the other hand Colonel 
Henry's influence in the Colony was very gi*eat, and 
his soldiers were devoted to him, so that it would be 
dangerous to put an open indignity upon him. Be- 
sides, his commission was explicit in constituting 
him commander-in-chief. The committee, whose 
term was just expiring, delayed action till the new 
committee could consider the matter, or if they 
came to a conclusion declined to announce it. In 
the meantime a member of the Convention * opened 
a correspondence with Colonel Woodford, to pre- 
pare him for what it was expected would be the 

1 Thifl was Joseph Jones of King Oeorge, as appears bj the letter of 
Pendleton of Deoember 24, post, p. 844. 


action taken, and to get his sentiments in reference 
to it On December 18, 1775, he wrote : 

^' Whether yon are obliged to make your returns 
to Colonel H-— y, and to send your dispatches 
through him to the convention and committee of 
safety, and also from those bodies through him to 
you, must depend upon ordinance and the com- 
mission he bears. You will observe his commis*- 
sion is strongly worded, beyond what I believe was 
the intention of the person who drew it, but the 
ordinance I think clearly gives the convention, and 
committee of safely actine under their authority, 
the absolute direction of the troops. The dispute 
between you must be occasioned, I suppose, (lor I 
have not seen your letter to the colonel,^ by disre* 
gard of him as a commander, after the adjoumment 
of the committee of safety, and before the meeting 
of the convention ; at which time, I am apt to think, 
though I am not a military man enough to deter- 
mine, your correspondence should have been with 
him as commandmg officer. I have talked with 
Colonel Henry about this matter ; he thinks he has 
been ill-treated and insists the officers under his com- 
mand shall submit to his orders. I recommended 
it to him to treat the business with caution and 
temper ; as a difference at this critical moment be- 
tween our troops would be attended with the most 
fatal consequences ; and took the liberty to assure 
him you would, I was certain, submit to whatever 
was thought just and reasonable. He has laid the 
letter betore the committee of safety, whose senti- 
ments upon the subject I expect you must have re- 
ceived before this ; I hope it will not come before 
us, but from what Colonel Henry said, he intimated 
it must, as it could be no otherwise determined. 
My sentiments upon that delicate point, I partly 
communicated upon the expected junction of the 


Carolina troops with ours, which I presume yon 
have received. By your letter yesterday to the 
president, I find you agree with me. I vei^ cor- 
dially congratulate you on the success at the Bridge 
and the reduction of the fort, which will give our 
troops the benefit of better and more wholesome 
ground. Your letter came to the convention just 
time enough to read it before we broke up, as it 
was nearly dark; it was however proposed and 
agreed, that the president should transmit you the 
approbation of your conduct in treating with kind- 
ness and humanity the unfoi*tunate prisoners ; and 
that your readiness to avoid dispute about rank 
-with Colonel Howe, they consider as a further 
mark of your attachment to the service of your 
country. I have had it in contemplation paying you 
a visit, but have not been able to leave the conven- 
tion, as many of our members are absent, and seem 
to be in continual rotation, some going, others com- 
ing. We shall raise many more battalions, and, as 
soon as practicable, arm some vessels. A com- 
mander or general, I suppose, will be sent us by 
the congress, as it is expected our troops will be 
upon continental pay. I pray God to protect you, 
and prosper your endeavors." 

Four days after the date of this letter the Con- 
vention re-elected the Committee of Safety, and in 
so doing plainly indicated dissatisfaction at the 
treatment of Colonel Henry on the part of some of 
the members. 

Instead of receiving the largest vote cast, as on 
his first election, Pendleton was the fourth on the 
list, Dudley Digges, John Page, and Paul Carrington 
leading him.^ The old members were re-elected, 

' These seem to have taken Colonel Henry^s part in the oontzoreisj 
with Colonel Woodford. 



except George Mason, who declined, and Carter 
Braxton: Their places were filled by Joseph Jones 
and Thomas Walker. The Committee as thus con- 
stituted passed a resolution which was intended as 
a compromise between the parties. It was in these 

''In oommittee— December, M.D.G.G.LXXV. 

"Eesolved, unanimously, that Colonel Wood- 
ford, although acting under a separate and detached 
command, ought to correspond with Colonel Henry, 
and make returns to him at proper times, of the state 
and condition of the forces under his command; 
and also that he is subject to his orders, when the 
convention, or the committee* of safety, is not sit- 
ting, but that while either of those bodies are sit- 
ting, he is to receive his orders from one of them!" 

In transmitting this resolution to Colonel Wood- 
ford, Pendleton displayed the greatest anxiety that 
it should not wound his feelings, and at the same 
time indicated his hostility toward Colonel Henry. 
His letter is dated December 24, 1775, and after 
mentioning the resolution to raise additional regi- 
ments, he adds : 

" The field-officers to each regiment will be named 
here, and recommended to congress; in case our 
army is taken into continental pay, they will send 
commissions. A general officer will be chosen there, 
I doubt not, and sent us ; with that matter, I hope 
we shall not intermeddle, lest it should be thought 
propriety requires our calling, or rather recommend- 
ing, our present first officer to that station. Believe 
me, sir, the unlucky step of calling that gentleman 
from our councils, where he was useful, into the 
field, in an important station, the duties of which he 


musty in the nature of things, be an entire stranger 
to, has ^ven me many an anxious and uneasy mo- 
ment. In consequence of this mistaken step, which 
cannot now be retracted or remedied, for he has 
done nothing worthy of degradation, and must keep 
his rank, we must be deprived of the service of some 
able officers, whose honor and former ranks will not 
suffer them to act under him in this juncture when 
we so much need their services ; however, I am told, 
that Mercer, Buckner, Dan^erfield, and Weedon, 
will serve, and are all thougnt of. I am also told 
that Mr. Thurston and Mr. Millikin are candidates 
for regiments ; the latter, I believe, will raise and 
have a German one. In the course of these reflec- 
tions, my great concern is on your account The 
pleasure I have enjoyed in finding your army con- 
ducted with wisdom and success, and your conduct 
meet with general approbation of the convention and 
country, makes me more uneasy at a thought that 
the country should be deprived of your services, or 
you made uneasy in it oy any untoward circum- 
stances. I had seen your letter to our friend Mr. 
Jones (now a member of the Committee of Safety,) 
and besides that, CoL Henry has laid before the 
committee your letter to him, and desii^ed our opin- 
ion whether he was to command you or not We 
never determined this till Friday evening ; a copy 
of the resolution I enclose you. If this will not oe 
agreeable, and prevent future disputes, I hope some 
happy medium will be suggested to effect the pur- 
pose, and make you easy ; for the Colony cannot 
part with you, wnile troops are necessary to be con- 

This resolution seems to have been accepted by 
Colonel Heniy as a settlement of the difficulty, 
though not satisfactory to him, and as Colonel 
Woodford was now acting under Colonel Howe, 



who was immediately imder the Convention, or the 
Committee when the Convention was not in session, 
the qnestion was no longer a practical one. All 
orders to the officers, other than to those nnder Col- 
onel Howe's command, passed through Colonel Hen- 
ry, as we learn from a letter of John Page to Bich*- 
ard Henry Lee, in Febroary 1776,^ in which he says, 
" I have been always of your opinion with respect to 
our present commander in chief. All ordei-s do pass 
through him, and we really wish to be in perfect 
harmony with him." Bnt while Colonel Henry be* 
haved with that caution and temper that the occa- 
sion demanded, yet the distrust of the Committee 
continued, and he was kept inactive at Williams- 
burg, while Colonel Howe was at the head of all the 
active service performed. 

While Colonel Henry was thus thwarted in his 
ambition as a soldier by the Committee, the countiy 
began to demand his return to her councils, as it 
was evident that the supreme moment of the Revolu- 
tion was approaching, when the great question of 
independence was to be decided. This feeling was 
shared in by Washington, who wrote to Joseph 
Keed, March 7, 1776: "I think my countrymen 
made a capital mistake, when they took Henry out 
of the Senate to place him in the field ; and pity it 
is that he does not see this, and remove every diffi- 
culty by a voluntary resignation." But so deter- 
mined was Colonel Henry to remain in the service, 
that nothing short of a direct slight by Congress in 
making promotions in the service could drive him 
from it This he was now to experience. 

When the Convention determined to raise six new 

1 Campbell's Hiatoiy of Vixglnift, MO. 


regiments letters were written to the delegates in 
Congress, by some of the members not friendly to 
Mr. Henry, requesting that these be taken on Conti- 
nental establishment One of these letters was from 
Archibald Cary to Richard Henry Lee, and bears 
date December 24, 1775.^ In it he says : " You will 
hear before this that six regiments are voted in ad- 
dition to the other two. As it seems probable that 
these troops will be employed on services not local, 
it is hoped they will be put on the general Conti- 
nental establishment The field officers will be 
named next week, and a list sent to the Congress for 
their approbation." This was a cunningly devised 
plan to supersede Colonel Henry more completely 
than had already been done. The conmiissions of 
Congress to the colonels of the new regiments 
would make them outrank the colonels commis- 
sioned by the Colony, and thus Colonel Henry, 
when joined, would be commanded by junior offi- 
cers. Congress expressed a willingness to comply 
with this request, but when it came to the knowl- 
edge of the Convention they saw the impropriety of 
the step, and on January 10, 1776, adopted a reso- 
lution urging Congress to take all the Virginia 
troops raised or ordered to be raised, into Continen- 
tal service, and adding, that " should the Congress 
adhere to their resolution of taking into Continental 
pay no more than six battalions, it be earnestly 
recommended to them to suffer our two present 
regiments to stand first in the arrangement, since 
otherwise the officers first appointed by this Con- 
vention, most of whom have already gone through 
a laborious and painful service, will be degraded in 

I Southern Literary Messenger for September, 1868, p. 185. 


their ranks, and there is too much reason to appre- 
hend that great confusion will ensue." 

Acting on this resolution, Congress, on February 
13, determined to include the first and second regi- 
ments in the six to be taken into Continental service, 
and appointed the same field officera for all six that 
had been appointed by the Convention, their com- 
missions from the Colony being thereby annulled. 
Congress also appointed Colonel Robert Howe, and 
Colonel Andrew Lewis, Brigadier-Generals. 

Thus although Colonel Henry was re-appointed 
Colonel of the first Virginia regiment, he was really 
degraded in rank, as instead of being commander in 
chief of theVirginia troops, which was the command 
of a Brigadier-General, his command was confined 
to that regiment, and he saw others inferior in rank 
to himself promoted over him to be Generals. 
About this time he was visited by Philip Mazzei, 
an Italian of considerable intelligence and culture, 
who had settled near, and become intimate with, 
Mr. Jefferson. On behalf of Mr. Jefferson and 
John Page, Mazzei urged Colonel Henry to resign 
his commission, and take his place in the councils 
of the Colony, where matters of vital importance 
needed his attention. Smarting under the contin- 
ued distrust shown him as a military leader, which 
had resulted in his being not only passed by in pro- 
motions, but actually degraded in rank, and being 
satisfied that his services were desired by his co- 
patriots in the approaching Convention, he no 
longer hesitated as to his duty, and when the Com- 
mittee sent for him on February 28, 1776, and 
offered him the commission of Congress as colonel, 
he declined to receive it. The following brief entry 


on the Journal of the Committee states what oc- 
curred : " Patrick Henry, Esquire, appeared in con- 
sequence of the letter wrote to him, and being 
offered his commission received from the Continen- 
tal Congress to be colonel of the 1st Battalion, de- 
clared he could not accept of the same/' ^ 

This action iH*oduced a commotion in camp which 
threatened serious consequences, had it not been 
quelled at once by the patriotic conduct of Colonel 
Henry. The following account of the affair is con- 
tained in the Gazette of March 1, 1776 : 

" Yesterday morning the troops in this city being 
informed that jPatricK Henry^ Esq., Commander- 
in-chief of the Virginia Forces, resigned his com- 
mission the day preceding, {Fehraa/ry 28<A,) and 
was about to leave them, the whole went into 
mourning, and, under arms, waited on him at his 
lodgings, when they addressed him in the following 
manner : 

" * To Patrick Henry, Jun., Esq. : 

" * Deeply impressed, with a grateful sense of the 
obligations we lie under to you, for the polite, 
humane and tender treatment manifested to us 
throughout the whole of your conduct, while we had 
the honour of being under your command, permit 
us to offer you our sincere thanks, as the only 
tribute we have in our power to pay to your real 

" ' Notwithstanding your withdrawing yourself 
from the service fills us with the most poignant 

* The Journal of the Committee of the next day oontaina the following 
entry, which shows the careful habit of Mr. Henry in money matters : 

'* Patrick Henry Esquire settled his account of money laid out for con- 
tingent expenses, balance due to him £12. 7. 9. for which he receiTed an 
order to have credit with the Commissary of Stores." 


sorrow, as it at once deprives us of our father and 
General, yet, as gentlemen, we are compelled to ap- 
plaud your spirited resentment to the most glar- 
ing indignity. May your merit shine as conspicuous 
to the world in general as it hath done to us, and 
may Heaven shower its choicest blessings upon you.' 

" * WiLLiAMSBUBGH, February 29, 1776.' 

" To which he returned the following Answer : 


*' ' Gentlemen : I am extremely obliged to you for 
your approbation of my conduct Your Address 
does me the highest honor. This kind of testimony 
of your regard to me would have been an ample 
reward for services much greater than I have had 
the power to perform. I return you and each of 
you, gentlemen, my best acknowledgments, for the 
spirit, alacrity, and zeal, you have constantly shewn 
in your several stations. I am unhappy to part 
with you. I leave the service, but I leave my heart 
with you. May God bless you, and give you success 
and safety, and make you the glorious instruments 
of saving our country.' 

" After the Officers had received Colonel Henry^a 
kind answer to their Address, they insisted upon 
his dining with them, at the Raleigh Tavern before 
his departure, and after dinner a number of them 
proposed escorting him out of town, but were pre- 
vented by some uneasiness getting among the sol- 
diery, wlio assembled in a tumultuous manner and 
demanded their discharge, and declaring their un- 
willingness to serve under any other commander. 
Upon which Colonel Henry found it necessary to 
stay a night longer in town, which he spent in visit- 
ing the several barracks, and used every argument 
in his power with the soldiery to lay aside their im- 
prudent resolution, and to continue in the service. 



which he had quitted from motives in which his 
honour^ alone, was concerned, and that, although he 
was prevented from serving his country in a mili- 
tary capacity, yet his utmost abilities should ever be 
exertea for the real interest of the United Colonies^ 
in support of the glorious cause in which they had 
engaged. This, accompanied with the extraordinary 
exertions of Colonel Vhristianj and the other offi- 
cers present, happily produced the desired effect, 
the soldiers reluctantly acquiescing. And we have 
now the pleasure to assure the publick that those 
brave fellows are now pretty well reconciled, and 
will spend the last drop of their blood in their 
country's defence." 

The resentment of the indignities to which Col- 
onel Henry had been subjected was not confined to 
the soldiers under his immediate command. More 
than ninety Officers, including those at Kemp's Land- 
ing, and Suffolk, Col. Woodford's camp, united in 
the following communication, which was published 
at their request in the Gazette of March 22, 1776. 
The signatures are not given in the Gazette, but 
must have included nearly every officer in commis- 

1 The officers of the two regiments, other than oolonels, were for 

FiBST Regiment, Second Rbgiment, 

Lt. Col. Mi^or, TA. Col, Afafor, 

Wm. Christian. Francis Eppes. Charles Scott. Alex. Spotswood 

Othbb Officers. 

first rboim ent. 


Ut JMuUnanf, 

S<f LieutenanU. 


John Green. 
John MarkhanL 
John Sayres. 
Wm. Davies. 
John Fleming. 
Bobt. Ballard. 
WnL CampbelL 
Geo. Gibson. 

Bd. Taylor. 
Wm. Cunningham. 
Goodrich Cmmp. 
WUlis Wilson. 
WnL Lewis. 
Ed. Garland. 
Danl. Trigg. 

John Eustice. 
Joseph Scott. 
Matthew Smith. 
Fran. Boyakin. 
John Pettus. 
John Clayton. 
Alex. Coming. 

John Lee. 
Tarlton Woodson. 
Nat. BurwelL 
Jonathan Godwin. 
David Anderson. 
Claiborne Lawson. 
Geo. Lambert. 



" Address to Patrich Hervry, Jun., Esq., Late Com,' 
mander-in' Chief of the Virginia Forces. 

" SiK : Deeply concerned for the good of our 
country, we sincerely lament the unhappy necessity 
of your resignation, and with all the warmth of af- 
fection assure you, that whatever may have given 
rise to the indignity lately offered to you, we join 
with the general voice of the people, and think it 
our duty to make this publick declaration of our 
high respect for youi' distinguished merit. To your 
vigilance and judgment, as a Senator, this United 
Continent bears ample testimony, while she prose- 
cutes her steady opposition to those destructive Min- 
isterial measures which your eloquence first pointed 
out and taught to resent, and your resolution led 
forward to rLst. To y;our extensive popularity the 
service, also, is greatly indebted for tne expedition 
with which the troops were raised ; and while they 
were continued under youi' command, the firmness, 
candour, and politeness, which f oimed the complexion 
of your conduct towards them, obtained the signal 
approbation of the wise and virtuous, and will leave 
upon our minds the most grateful impression. 

" Although retired from the immediate concerns 
of war, we solicit the continuance of your kindly at- 
tention. We know your attachment to the best of 



Ut Lieutenanti. 

Sd LieutenanPi. 


Geo. Johnston. 
Richd. Parker, jr. 
Wm. Taliaferro. 
Geo. Nicholas. 
Wm. Fountaine. 
R Kidder Meade. 
Morgan Alexander, 

Thos. Tibbs. 
Catesby Jones. 
John Willis. 
Beverly Dickson. 
John Marks. 
Ed. Travis. 
Geo. Jump. 

Wm. Samford. 
John Monroe. 
Seymore Hooe. 
Thos. Russell. 
Thos. Hughes. 
Bullar Chubome. 
Marques Calmes. 

Peyton Harrison. 
Alex. Fbrker. 
Ben. Holmes. 
Merritt Moore. 
Wm. Robinson. 
John Nicholas. 
John Holden. 

Vide American Archives (5th Series), ii., 820. To these most be added the 
officers of the minute men. 


causes ; we have the fullest confidence in your abili- 
ties, and in the rectitude of your views, and, how- 
ever wUling the envious may be to undermine an 
established reputation, we trust the day will come 
when justice shall prevail, and thereby secure vou 
an honourable and happy return to the glorious 
employment of conductmg our councils, and hazard- 
ing your life in the defence of Your country. 

" With the most grateful sentiments of regard and 
esteem, we are, sir, very respectfully, your most 
obliged and obedient, humble servants. 

^^oiffned by upwards of ninety Office7% at Kemp's 
Landing, Suffolk, amd Williatnsburgh." 

Had there been any doubt as to the body against 
which the charge of envy was thus directed, it 
would have been removed by the following defence 
of the Committee of Safety, which appeared in the 
Gazette of March 15, 1776. 

" Mr. Purdie : I am informed a report is prevail- 
ing through the colony, that the committee of safety 
were the cause of Col. Henry's resigning the com- 
mand of his battalion ; which it is supposed hath re- 
ceived confirmation from the address of the oflBcers to 
that gentleman, in which they speak of a glaring indig- 
nity having been offered him, if it was not wholly 
derived from that source. That the good people of 
the country may be truly informed m this matter, 
the following state of facts is submitted, without 
comment, to the impartial judgment of the public : 

" As soon as the last convention had voted the 
raising seven new battalions of troops, besides 
augmenting the old ones, the committee of safety 
inrormed our delegates to congress of that vote, de- 
siring they would use their best endeavors to have 
the whole supported at continental expense ; in 
answer to which, a letter was received from the 


delegates, dated the 30th of December, of which 
the following is an extract : ^ The resolutions of con- 
gress for taking our six additional (they would not 
agree to take our other two) battalions, into conti- 
nental pay, and for permitting an exportation for 
supplying our countrymen with salt, are enclosed/ 
It was supposed from hence, an intention prevailed in 
congress to pass by the two old battalions, and take 
six of the new ones into continental pay ; which, as 
it was said those officers would take precedency of 
provincial ones of equal rank, was generally thought 
wrong, since it would degrade the officers of the 
two nrst battalions; an^ to avoid this, the con- 
vention came to a resolution, the 10th of Janu- 
ary, of which the fcr lowing is part : * Should the 
congress adhere to/ 'r resolution of taking into 
continental pay no/ > than six battalions, let it 
be earnestly recon/ ^ to them to suffer our two 

present battalions y^ completed as before men- 

tioned) to stand first . the arrangement; since 
otherwise the officers first appointed by this con-, 
vention, most of whom have already gone through 
a laborious and painful service, will be degraded in 
their ranks, and there is too much reason to appre- 
hend that great confusion will ensue.' 

"The worthy gentleman {not a member of the 
committee of safety) who proposed this resolution, 
informed the convention, he had consulted some of 
the officers of the first regiment, who wished to have 
their rank preserved, though it was foreseen the 
pay would be reduced, 

"The committee of safety, in a letter to the 
delegates, dated the 25th of January, enclosing this 
resolution, thus wiite : ^ You have a list of the field 
officers as they stand recommended, and we doubt 
not receiving the commissions in the like order, with 
blanks for the proper number of captains und 
subalterns. If, however, the resolution of congress 



should be unalterably fixed to allow us but six bat- 
talions, you will please to attend to that part of the 
resolve which reconuneAds their being the first six^ 
as a point of great consequence to our harmony, ia 
which may be involved the good of the common 

^^ The committee of safety afterward received the 
commissions wholly filled up for the field officers of 
six battalions, in tne rank tney stood recommended 
by the convention, beginning with Col. Henry, and 
ending with Col. Buc^er of the 6th battalion, with 
directions to deliver them. Colonel Henry was ac- 
cordingly offered his commission, which he declined 
accepting and retired without assigning any rea* 

^^ As to the general officers, the convention left 
them entirely to the choice of the congress, without 
recommendation ; nor did the committee of safety 
at all intermeddle in that choice. 

"A Fbiend to Truth. 

This disingenuous attempt to defend the action of 
the Committee was not satisfactory, as the address 
of the officers was published by their request in a 
subsequent issue of the paper, and in the paper con- 
taining the defence the following ai^ticle appeared : 

*' En^y will merit as its shade poxsae ; 
But, like the shadow, proyee the sahstazioe tme." — PoFB. 

" I was not surprised to see, in your last week's 
Gazette, the resignation of P. Jaenry^ Esq., late 
Commander-in chief of all the Vvrginia Forces, 
and Colonel of the First Regiment. From that 
great man's amiable disposition, his invariable per- 
severance in the cause of liberty, we a/pprehend that 
envy strove to bury in obscurity his martial talents, 
lettered and confined^ with only an empty titUj the 


mere echo ofa/uih4mtyi his wperior ab^ities laywr 
active, nor could he exerted jor his honowr or hie 
ccui^br^ % good 

^ Virginia may truly boast, that in him she finds 
the able statesman, the soldier's father, the begt of 
citizens, and liber^'s dear friend. Glad with inno- 
cence, as in a coat of mail, he is proof against every 
serpenHle whieper. The officers and soldiers, who 
laiow him, are riveted to his bosom : when he 
speaks, all is silence ; when he orders, they cheer- 
fally obey; and in the field nnder so sensible, so 
prudent an officer, though hosts oppose them, with 
shouts they meet their armed foe, the sure presages 
of victory and success. 

" Let us, my countrymen, with grateful hearts, re- 
member that ne carried off the standard of liberty, 

and defeated Ghrenville in his &vourite Stamp Act 

" Whfla manj dzeadad tm wtth plMdi^r ^7«» 
Saw IgnBumj before teere Hemy Qj.** 

" I am, Mr. Purdie, your friend, and well wisher 
to Virginia. 

^^An Hokbst Fabmsb." 

The attempted defence was seen to be unsatisfac- 
tory, and soon there appeared over the signature of 
'^Cato," an elaborate article purporting to give 
the circumstances of Colonel Henry's election, the 
grounds of opposition to him, the intention of the 
framers of his Commission, and the action of the 
Convention and Congress which led to his resigna- 
tion. This article was evidently inspired, if not 
written, by some member of the Committee, as it 
discloses familiarity with their proceedings, and is a 
studied .attempt to place Colonel Henry in the wrong 
by a suppression of the true ground of his resigna- 


tion.^ This was no more satis&ctory than the -first 
attempted defence, and the Gommitteey and espe- 
cially its president, were severely censured for their 
conduct So strong was this feeling, and the dissat- 
isfaction in some parts of the Colony at the conduct 
which had caused the resignation of Colonel Henry, 
that John Page, in a letter to Richard Henry Lee, 
April 12, 1776, giving several reasons why the 
threatened attack of the British was to be dreaded,' 
says, ^^ Our people in some places disconcerted about 
Henry's resignation," • 

Pendleton was aware that he was particularly 
blamed, and became so irritated in consequence that 
we find him using the following unbecoming lan- 
guage in a letter to Colonel Woodford, who con- 
sulted him about the propriety of resigning his com- 
mission/ ^^ I am apprehensive that your resignation 
will be handled to your disadvantage from a certain 
quarter, where all reputations are sacrificed for the 
sake of one ; what does it signify that he resigned 
without any such cause, or assigning any reason at 
all ? It is not without example that others should 
be censured for what he is applauded for." 

In after years it was said that Colonel Henry was 
deemed by the Committee too lax in his discipline,* 
but in all the communications of the Committee 

> See this article in American Arohiyea, 4th Series, iv., 1519. 

' See Sonthem Literary Messenger for October, 1858, 255. 

' While there was the feeling described by John Page in some quarters, 
many rejoiced that Colonel Henry would be again in the councils of the 
Colony at this critical period. Oolonel Reed, in answer to the letter of 
Washington preyioualy noticed, says, '' We have some accounts from Vir- 
ginia that Oolonel Henry has resigned in disgust at not being made a gen- 
eral officer ; but it rather giyes satisfaction than otherwise, as his abilitiee 
seem better calculated for the Senate than the field.*' 

* Wirt's Henry, 206. 

s Grigsby's Virginia Conyention of 1776, 52-8, note. 



to him we find no complaint of a want of disci- 
pline, and it was doubtless said in attempted jus- 
tification. No harsh word seems to have escaped 
Mr. Henry's lips. Conscious of being in the right, 
he cared little for the strictures of others on his 
conduct Had he needed vindication, the united 
testimony of the officers under his own and Colonel 
Woodford's command as to the propriety of his con- 
duct was sufficient But no one who can appreciate 
a soldier's sense of honor, will hesitate for a moment 
to applaud his spirited resentment of the indignity 
offered him. Twenty-one years before, Washing- 
ton, under similar circumstances, had resigned his 
commission as Colonel, and his conduct had met 
with general approval. 

It is useless to speculate on what would have been 
his career had Colonel Henry remained in the mill- 
tary service. Yet we must believe that had he sur- 
vived the dangers of the battle-field, he would have 
added one more name to the long list of citizen 
soldiers who have faithfully served their coun- 
try, and his genius might have won for him a place 
upon the highest pinnacle of fame, making him, 
as a military chieftain, the peer of a Sylla and a 
Clive. But whatever might have been his military 
career, we now clearly see that it was the hand of a 
gracious Providence which led him from the camp 
to the hall of legislation, and to the office of Execu- 
tive, in both of which his services, which might not 
have been rendered by another, were of transcend- 
ent importance to his country. 



Bitterness of the King. — ^Debates in Fftrliament on American 
Affidrs. — ^Firmness of the Friends of America. VindictiTeness 
of the Administration. — ^Effect in America. — ^Evidence that In- 
dependence had not 6een Prerionslj Desired. — ^Alleged Meck- 
lenburg Declaration. — Change in American Bentiment as to In- 
dependence. ^DifBcoltiee in the Way. — CSongress Hampered. — 
The People of Virginia Declare for Independence. — Charlotte 
Conntj Instmctions. — ^All Eyes turned upon Patrick Henry. — 
Letters to Him. 

"While the Committee of Safety wei^e holding 
Colonel Henry inactive in his camp at Williams- 
burg, the political revolution of the Colonies was 
hurrying to its consummation, and the contest with 
the mother country was assuming an entirely 
different character. On August 18, 1775, the King 
wrote to Lord North. "I am unalterably deter- 
mined at every hazard and at the risk of every con- 
sequence, to compel the colonies to absolute submis- 
sion," and he added that, " it would be better totally 
to abandon them than to admit a single shadow of 
their doctrines." ^ 

In this temper he convened Parliament October 
26. He opened the session with a violent speech, 
in which he attributed the condition of affairs in 
America entirely to the intrigues of their political 
leaders, whom he charged with duplicity in their 
communications with the British Government ; say- 

' Bonne's Correspondenoe of Qeorge III., i, 268. 


ingy ^^ They meant only to amuse by vague expres- 
sions of attachment to the parent state, and the 
strongest protestations of loyalty to me, while they 
were preparing for a general revcdt. • • . The 
rebellious war now levied is beoome more general, 
and is manifestly carried on for the purpose of 
establishing an independent empire.'' His Majes- 
ty then proceeded to say, it was ^the part of wis- 
dom and clemency to put a speedy end to these 
disorders by the most decisive measures. For 
this purpose I have increased my naval establish- 
ment and greatly augmented my land forces." He 
promised however to send conmiissioners with his 
forces, with authority to grant pardons and in- 
demnities to individuals, and to receive the submis- 
sion of any province or colony. He hinted at his 
employment of foreign troops, and dosed by asking 
for the supplies necessary for the conduct of the 
war. The addresses moved in the two Houses 
in reply to this speech expressed satisfaction with 
the conduct of the King, and entire sympathy with 
his purpose to put down ^^a rebellion manifestly 
for the purpose of establishing and maintaining an 
independent empire." Upon these addresses mem- 
orable debates arose, which developed the fact that 
some of the ablest supporters of the government at 
the preceding session refused to sanction the war 
upon which they had entered, charging the Ministry 
with having grossly deceived them as to the true 
condition of affairs in America. The addresses 
were carried however by a vote of more than two 
to one in each House. The able and determined 
minority, nothing daunted, renewed their opposition 
upon every motion of the Government in aid of the 


war, and brought forward from time to time pro- 
posals for reconciliation with the Coloniea The 
session lasted till May 23, 1776, and was chiefly 
occupied with American afEairs. 

In the Lords the Government was supported by 
the Earls of Bockf ord, Sandwich, and E^tmouth, 
and Lord George Sackville Germaine, all members of 
the cabinet. These were powerfully aided by Lord 
Mansfield^ whose great intellect was too often exert- 
ed in behalf of tyranny. They were opposed by 
Lord Camden, the Bishop of Peterborough, the Earl 
of Shelbume, the Dukes of Richmond, Manchester, 
and Grafton, and the Marquis of Rockingham. In 
the Conmions the leaders on the side of Government 
were Lord North, Solicitor General Wedderbum, 
Attorney General Thurlow, Sir Adam Ferguson, 
and Governor Littleton, while the opposition were 
led by Burke, Fox, BarrS, Wilkes, Governor John- 
stone, General Conway, and Temple and James 

The devoted band that dared brave the anger of 
the King and the madness of the hour, and defend 
American rights under the taunt of being abettors 
of treason, deserve to be held in lasting remem- 
brance. Two passages illustrate the fimmess and 
spirit with which they met the bitter assaults of 
the ministerial party. In the House of Lords the 
Duke of Richmond having said^ ^ I do not think the 
people of America in rebeUion, but resisting acts of 
the most unexampled cruelty and oppression,'' he 
was loudly called to order, and the Earl of Den* 
bigh, in an excited and boisterous manner, under- 
took to reprimand him, closing with the words, *' I 
do openly contend that those who defend rebellion, 


are themselves little better than rebels; and that 
there is very little di£erence between the traitor, 
and he who openly or privately abets treason," The 
Doke commenced a withering reply by saying, " The 
noise yoor lordships have heard, has reached below 
the bar, and mnst convince yon that the noble Earl 
who spoke last has been heard there. Bat I will 
tell his lordship, tiiat I am not to be intimidated or 
deterred from my duty by loud words. Such ex- 
ertions o£ mere sonnd will not prevent me fi'om 
punctnaUy performing my duty.'* Later in the ses- 
sion upon the news of the death of Montgomery in 
attempting to storm Quebec, Barr^ Burke, and 
Fox, all passed high eulogies in the House of Com- 
mons upon the gallant American. Lord North 
thereupon arose, and " censured what he called this 
unqualified liberality of the praises bestowed on 
General Montgomery, by the gentlemen in opposi- 
tion, because they were bestowed upon a rebel ; and 
said he could not join in lamenting his death as a 
public loss. He admitted, indeed, that he was 
brave, humane, generous ; but still be was only a 
brave, able, humane, and generous rebel ; and said, 
that the verse of the tr^edy of Cato might be ap- 
plied to him — 

' Cnne on his yiitaei, thej'Te andons his oauattf.' " 

Mr. Fox arose a second time and said : 

" The term ' rebel ' applied by the noble Lord, to 
that excellent person, was no certain mark of dis- 

frace, and therefore he was the less earnest to clear 
im of the imputation ; for that all the great asseii;- 
ors oE liberty, the saviours of their country, the 
benefactors of mankind, in all ages, had been called 


i-ebels ; that they even owed the conatttatilon, which 
enabled them to sit in that house, to a lebetlion — 

The most noted act of this seBsion, the one which 
affected most the minds of the Americans, was die 
act prohibiting all trade with the thirteen ColonieiL 
American vessels and goods were made the property 
of the captors, and the prisoners might be compelled 
to serve the King against their own conntrymen. 
No grievance was removed, but conmiiflsioners were 
appointed to receive the submission of commnnitie% 
or individnalB. Lord NorUi in intrododng the bill 
declared it was pnrely a war measure, and it was 
treated as a declaration of war by both parties in 
the debates which followed, and was so regarded in 

Important changes were made in the ministry. 
The Duke of Grafton retired and threw himself 
into the Opposition. The weak and vacillating 
Earl of Dartmouth took the privy seal, and was suc- 
ceeded as secretary of the colonies by the cowardly 
and cruel Lord George Sackville Germaine. The 
Earl of Rockford was succeeded as one of the secre- 
taries of state by Lord Weymouth, greatly his su- 
perior in ability and resolution. These changes 
were all for the purpose of conducting the most 
vigorous war against the Colonies. But the war 

' The exolmniktion of ^neu npon leeing apon Hm mil* of Dido's 
temple picture* of the airagglea uoiiDd Tro;. I. ^neid, 461, 408. 

, . . " Aje pr»i»e wtlto on Worth " 
"B'oQ in this oomer of the emitb;" 
"E'en here the Mar of pity apringa," 
" And heuta are toaohed by hatnui tiifnga." 

— CoRins'roK'B Truialktion. 


was to a great extent tlie war of the minUtrr. The 
heart of the people was not in sympathy with the 
King, and nnable to enlist the needed soldiers eitlter 
in England, Scotland, or Ireland, he was forced to 
seek them in Europe. His applications to Holland 
and Russia were refused, bat he succeeded in hiring 
troops from two of the petty princes of Germany, 
Charles, Duke of Brunswick, and Frederick the 
Second, Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, and Count of 
Hanau. These dissolute princes, with inhuman 
heartlesenesB, filled their empty cofEers with the 
blood money of their subjects, and furnished the 
British tyrant with the hireling force with which 
he trusted to enslave his own subjects. 

The speech of the King upon the opening of 
parliament was not published in America till Janu- 
ary 4, 1776. Up to that time the utterances of the 
public bodies in the Colonies had been constant pro- 
testations of their desire to continue the union with 
the mother country as it had formerly existed. 
As late as November 29, 1775, the Continental 
Congress iu their letters to the Colonial agents in 
Europe, said : " There is nothing more ardently de- 
sired by North America than a lasting union with 
Great Biitain, on terms of just and equal liberty." 
This desire was attested by the Virginia Conven- 
tion and the Rhode Island Assembly, as late as 
August, by the North Carolina Congress, September 
8 ; by the Pennsylvania Assembly, November 9 ; 
by the New Jersey Assembly, November 28 ; by the 
Maryland Convention, December 7 ; and by the 
New York Congress, December 14. 

These protestations of a desire to continue the 
union with England while the Colonies were resist- 


ing the tyrannical claims of the British Govern- 
ment, were treated as hypocritical and treacherous, 
not only by the king and parliament, bat by re- 
spectable writers of the day and of later times, who 
have charged the Colonies with harboring a design 
of independence even before the present dispute.^ 
The charge of duplicity against the American pa- 
triots, could only have been made by those who did 
not appreciate their high characters and noble 
purposes. Certain it is, that their private and con- 
fidential communications were in accordance with 
their public utterances. 

On October 9, 1774, Washington, after mingling 
freely with the leading spirits in America assem- 
bled in Congress, wrote to his friend Captain Mac- 
kenzie, ^^ I am well satisfied that no such thing (as 
independence) is desii*ed by any thinking man in 
all North America ; on the contrary, that it is the 
ardent wish of the warmest advocates for liberty, 
that peace and tranquillity, upon constitutional 
grounds, may be restored, and the horrors of civil 
discord prevented." * Governor Bichard Penn, who 
after delivering the second petition to the King was 
examined before Parliament and was asked whether 
he knew the membei*s of the Congress of 1775, and 
whether their aim was independence, answered,' 
^^ I am acquainted with almost all the members of 
the Congress, I think they do not caiTy on the war 
for independency, I never heard them breathe senti- 
ments of that nature." Samuel Adams wrote to 
Arthur Lee, February 14, 1774, while in attendance 
at the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, and re- 

' See Chalmers, Johnson, Jenyns, Botta and Qxahame. 

* Writings of Washington, ii., 402. * Parliamentary History. 


feired to the idea of independence as something 
"we all eincerely deprecate." On August 35, 1775, 
Jefferson wrote to hia friend John Randolph, then 
in England,' deploring another campaign, as likely 
" to risk our accepting a foreign aid, which, per- 
haps, may not be obtainable, but on condition of 
everlasting evulsion from Great Britun," and ad- 
ded : " This would be thought a hard condition, to 
those who still wish for reunion with their parent 
country. I ani sincerely one of those, and would 
rather be in dependence on G-reat Britain, properly 
limited, than on any nation on earth, or than on no 
nation."* And in 1821, he affirmed,* " Before that 
(the commencement of hostilities) I never heard a 
whisper of a disposition to separate from Great 
Britain ; and after that, its possibility was contem- 
plated with affliction by all." John Adams at the 
same time declared,* " that thei'e existed a general 
desire of independence of the crown in any part of 
America, before the revolution, is as far from the 
truth as the zenith from the nadir." " For my own 
part, there was not a moment during the revolution 
when I would not have given everything I possessed 
for a restoration to the state of things before the con- 
test began, provided we could have had a sufficient 
security for its continuance." " And John Jay also 
then said," " During the course of my life, and until 

' Writings of Jefferaon, L, IGl. 

* In JeSeiBon's Notes on Virginia, lie laid : " It U well known that in 
Jolf, IT7!t, a aepaiatioii from Qreat Britain and eitabliahment of rapnbli- 
oai^gorenunent had nsTor yet euterad into an/ penou's mind." 

' Life of John Jaj, li, 417. 
' Ibid., 418. 

' See also his letter to a friend, Febniary 18, 1T76, American AiohivM 
(4th Serial), it., 1183, where he expienea hta dedn for rsooDoOiation. 

• Life of John Jay, IL, 418. 


after the second petition of congress in 1775, 1 never 
heard an American of any class, or of any descrip- 
tion, express a wish for the independence of the 
colonies. ... It has always been, and still is 
my opinion and belief, that our country was 
prompted and impelled to independence by necessity 
and not by choice. Those who know how we were 
then circumstanced, know from whence that neces- 
sity resulted." 

We have also a remarkable attestation of the 
truth of these statements in a pastoral letter of the 
Synod of New York and Philadelphia May 22, 1775, 
to their members in New York, New Jersey, Dela- 
ware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina, 
in which, referring to the existing war, they say, " It 
gives us the greatest pleasure to say, from our own 
certain knowledge of all belonging to our commun- 
ion, and from the best means of information, of 
the far greatest part of all denominations in this 
country, that the present opposition to the measures 
of administration does not in the least aiise from 
disaffection to the king, or a desire of separation 
from the parent state." ^ 

Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry were un- 
doubtedly among the first to abandon all hope of 
reconciliation, and to realize that independence was 
a necessary step, but there is no evidence that either 
commenced the struggle for colonial rights with 
any desire to attain independence. 

The people of Mecklenbui'g County, North Caro- 
lina, whose resolutions in May, 1775, have been^eo 
much discussed in late years, formed no exception 

' See this tralj patriotic and Christian letter in Records of the 
Presbyterian Church, 46G-9. 


to the siatemeat that the colonies did not then 
desire independence. The first publication as to 
the disputed resolutions which attracted attention 
was made in the R^eigh Hegiater, April 30, 1819, 
and consisted of a copy of a paper, said to have 
been left by John McKnitt Alexander, deceased, giv- 
ing an account of a meeting at Charlotte, the county 
seat of Mecklenburg Couoty, May 20, 1776, and the 
adoption then of a series of resolutions, whereby 
they absolved themselves " from all all^;iaDce to the 
British crown." The copy had a memorandum 
endorsed to the efEect, " that the original book was 
burned April, 1800," and " that a copy of the pro- 
ceedings was sent to Hugh Williamson, in New 
York, then writing a History of North Carolina, 
and that a copy was sent to General W. R. Davie." 
The publication gave rise to considerable discussion, 
both John Adams and Thomas JefEerson expressing 
doubts as to the genuineness of the resolntions. 
Thereupon the depositions of a number of the 
survivors of the occasion were taken, who united in 
the fact that a declaration of independence was 
made during that month at that place, some fixing 
the date on May 20. After a search the copy sent 
to General W. R. Davie was found, and on it a 
certificate of Mr. Alexander in the following words : 
" It may be worthy of notice here to observe that 
the foregoiug statement, though fundamentally 
correct, yet may not literally con-espond with the 
original record of the transactions of said delegation 
and court of inquiry, as all those records and 
papers were burned with the house on April 6, 1800, 
but previous to that time (1800) a full copy of said 
records, at the request of Dr. Hugh Williamson, 


then of New Torlc, bnt formerly a repnaentalaTe in 
congress from this State, was forwarded to him 1^ 
Colonel William Polk, in order that iheee early 
transactiona might fill their propw place in a history 
of this state by Dr. Willianuon in New York." * 
The copy sent to Dr. Williamson has never been 
foimd, and was not used by him in his book, whiob 
did not come down to so late a period. No contem* 
poraneotia publication or record of &eee resolntionB 
has been found, and they are sought to be eetab- 
llahed by the recolleetions of men more tiian forty 
years after their date, and chiefly by the statemoits 
of John McKnitt Alexander, who is described as the 
secretary of the meeting. After the disenssion oon- 
ceniiDg them had progressed for years, the record of 
a meeting of the Gotmty Committee at the same 
place on May 31, eleven days later, was discovered 
in the South Carolina Gazette of June 13, 1775, and 
the New York Jownial of June 29, 1775, and some 
other papers of that day. The resolutions of this 
meeting have the following preamble : " Whereas 
by an addreas of Parliament in February last the 
American colonies are declared to be in a atate of 
actual rebellion, we conceive that all laws and com- 
miasiona confirmed by or derived from the authority 
of the King and Parliament are annulled and 
vacated, and the former civil conatitution of these 
Colonies for the present wholly auspended. To pro- 
vide in some degree for the exigencies of this 
county in the present alarming period, we deem it 
proper and necessary to pass the following resolves, 
viz." Then follow twenty resolves providing a 
very complete county government The eighteenth 

■ WheelM's Eentimsoenoei of North Cuolbu, 389. 


resolution is in these words : " That these resoln* 
tioDS be in full force and virtue until instructions 
from the Provincial Congress regulating the juris- 
prudence of the province shall provide otherwise, or 
the legislative body of Great Britain resign its un> 
just and arbitrary pretensions with respect to 
America." These resolutions while establishing a 
temporary government upon the ground urged by 
Mr. Henry in the Continental Congress of 1774, ex- 
pressly negative the idea of absolute and iiTevocable 
separation from Great Britain. They were there- 
fore, inconsistent with the resolves said to have 
been adopted eleven days before, and the conclusion 
seems to be inevitable, that in the attempt to recall 
them Mr. Alexander and others mistook their exact 
import as well as their date, or gave their date in the 
old style, not entirely gone out of use in 1775, by 
which May 31, would have been written May 20.' 
As the action of May 81, was published, it must be 
taken as representing the position of the county. 
This view is made conclumve by the record of the 
contemporaneous statements of four at least of the 
most prominent actors on the occasion. At the 
North Carolina Provincial Congress which met Au- 
guBt 20, 1775, Thomas Polk, John Pfifer, Waighstill 
Avery, and John McKnitt Alexander were among the 
representatives from Mecklenburg County.* These 
were described as active in the meetings of the pre- 
ceding May. On August 23, they with the other 
members of the body signed a test, which commences 
as follows : " We the subscribers, professing our al- 

' B7 kot of Parii&ment, September, 17S2, the cbuige from Jnlitm to Oi«- 
goiion rechomoK waa mkde ; the Sd of the DKmth oallad Uie 14th, and 
the 7ear made to oommenoe jHi<iai7 1 inatead of Haroh SS, u before. 

* Journal in Amerioan ArohiTM (4th Beriea], 111, 183. 


legiance to the King, and acknowledging the consti- 
tutional executive power of Government" ^ 

On September 4, the body having taken into 
consideration the proposed plan of a General Con- 
federation resolved,* *' That the present association 
ought to be further relied on for bringing about a 
reconciliation with the Parent State, and a further 
Confederacy ought only to be adopted in case of the 
last necessity." 

On September 8, the body unanimously adopted 
an address to the inhabitants of the British Empire ' 
which contains the f oUowing language : 

" We have been told that independence is our ob- 
ject : that we seek to shake off all connection with 
the parent state. Cruel suggestion ! Do not all 
our professions, all our actions, uniformly contra- 
dict this ? We again declare, and we invoke that 
Almighty Being who searches the recesses of the 
human heart, and knows our most secret intentions, 
that it is our most earnest wish and prayer to be re- 
stored, with the other united Colonies, to the state in 
which we and they were placed before the year 
1763. . . . Whenever we have departed trom 
the forms of the constitution, oui' own safety and 
self-preservation have dictated the expedient; and 
if in any instance we have assumed powers which 
the laws invest in the Sovereign, or his representa- 
tives, it has been in defence of our persons, proper- 
ties and those rights which God, and the constitu- 
tion have made inalienably ours. As soon as the 
cause of our fears and apprehensions are removed, 
with joy will we return tnese powers to their regu- 
lar channels ; and such institutions, formed from 

* Joamal in Amerioan Arohives (4th Series), iiL, 187. 
' Idem., iii, 196. * Idem., ia, 201. 


mere necessity, shall end with that necessity that 
created them," etc 

After these repeated and solemn declarations and 
acts to the contrary, it does violence to the memory 
of the representatives of Mecklenburg County to 
represent them as already having declared indepen- 
dence ; and to establish such a declaration would be 
to demonstrate that these delegates were guilty of 
shameful falsehood, and were unworthy of the lib- 
erty they risked their lives to establish. 

But while the desire of the Americans was uni- 
versal for the continuance of the union with Great 
Britain long after the commencement of hostilities, 
it was the conviction of intelligent observers in Eu- 
rope and America that the necessary result of the 
contest would be independence, or subjugation. 
The patriot party in the colonies were slow in com- 
ing to this conclusion, till forced by the events of 
the winter of 1775-6 ; but in the spring of 1776 
there was a widespread conviction that independence 
was necessary for the preservation of their nghts. 
The determination of the King and Parliament to 
vigorously prosecute the war, followed by the in- 
tercepted letter of Germaine to Governor Eden, of 
Maryland, announcing the sailing of a force to sub- 
jugate the Southern Colonies, dispelled all reason- 
able hope of reconciliation ; while the cruel spirit in 
which the war was prosecuted completely alienated 
the Colonies from the mother country. 

The altered tone of the press indicated the change 
going on among the people. This change was pow- 
erfully aided by the pamphlet written by Thomas 
Paine, called " Common Sense," which ran rapidly 


through several editions. In it the necessity for de- 
claring independence was urged with great force, 
and its effect upon the public mind was something 
phenomenal. But there were serious difficulties in 
the way. The progress of events had developed the 
Tory element in the Colonies, and it was not to be 
despised either for its numbers or its influence. 
The proprietary interest in the Middle Colonies 
feared a change of government, and united with the 
Tories in resisting every step towards independence. 
Many patriots who were convinced of the propriety 
of the step, were of opinion that the time had not 
aiTived when it could be safely taken. . No confed- 
eration of the colonies had been entered into, and no 
foreign alliances had been assured. 

The war had not been without its reverses, and 
the military situation was critical. The brilliant 
campaign of Montgomery in Canada had been 
brought to a disastrous termination upon his fall 
before Quebec. It was true that General Howe, 
the successor of Gage, had been forced by Wash- 
ington to abandon Boston, and the patriots of North 
Carolina had gained a signal victory over the Tories 
at Moore's Creek Bridge ; but the British were con- 
centrating a large force at New York, and Wash- 
ington, whose army had been greatly reduced by the 
expiration of the terras of enlistment and the expe- 
dition into Canada, had no adequate force to oppose 
them. The Congress, called on to conduct a war 
with Great Britain while professing allegiance to 
the British Crown, had been embarrassed in all of 
its action, and had failed to put forth that prompt, 
vigorous exertion so necessary for the successful 
conduct of war. They attempted to keep open the 



door for reconciliation^ and even when driven by 
necessity to take important steps, these were often 
injuriously delayed, and some matters of the great- 
est importance were not acted on at alL Thus the 
advice given to New Hampshire, South Carolina, 
and Virginia, in November and December, 1775, to 
form local governments in the place of the royal 
authority, which had been abandoned in those col- 
onies, limited them to the continuance of the pre- 
sent disputes. A committee to seek foreign aid was 
not appointed till November 29, 1775. The advice 
to disarm all Tories was given March 14, 1776. The 
authorization of privateers was given March 23, 
1776, and the proposal of Virginia to open Ameri- 
can ports to all nations except Great Britain, was 
discussed from January 12, 1776, to April 6, when 
it was adopted. The urgent request of Washing- 
ton to raise an army for the war instead of depend- 
ing on annual enlistments, was not acted on, and 
the plan of confederation introduced by Franklin 
shared the same fate. To add to the perplexity of 
the situation the rumor was spread, that a commis- 
sion would be sent by the Ministry to treat with the 
Colonies, and offer them satisfactory terms. 

But the diflSculties which surrounded the American 
patriots only served to arouse them the more, and in 
no colony was there a finer spirit than in Virginia. 
In the elections for the Convention to meet in May 
the candidates were required to pledge themselves 
for independence, and, as before, many counties in- 
structed their delegates as to their wishes. The 
earliest of these instructions for independence 
which were published, was from the county of 
Charlotte, April 23, 1776, a county which Mr. 


Henry afterwards made his home. As an indication 
of the spirit of the people, this remarkable paper is 
well worthy of preservation. It is as follows : 

To Paul Ca/rrington^ and Thomas Read, JEsg^a. : 

" Geittlemen : When we consider the despotick 
plan adopted by the King, Ministry and Parliament 
of Oreat Britain, insidiously pursued for these 
twelve years past, to enslave America ; when we 
consider that tney have turned a deaf ear to the re- 
peated petitions and remonstrances of this and our 
sister Colonies, and that they have been equally in- 
attentive to the rights of freemen and the British 
Constitution ; and when we consider that they have 
for some time been endeavouring to enforce their 
arbitrary mandates by fire and sword, and likewise 
encouraging, by every means in their power, our 
savage neighbours, and our more savage domesticks, 
to spill the blood of our wives and children ; and 
to crown the whole, they have added insult to their 
injustice and cruelty, by repeatedly pretending to 
hold out the olive branch of peace in such a way 
as teacheth us that they are determined to persist 
in their hellish designs, and that nothing is intended 
for us but the most abject slaveiy ; of this we can 
no longer doubt, since we have been made ac- 
quainted with a late letter from the Secretary of 
State to Governour Eden, and the late act of Parlia- 
ment for seizing and confiscating all our ships and 
property that may fall into their hands : 

"Therefore despairing of any redress of our 
grievances from the King and Parliament of Greai 
Britain, and all hopes of a reconciliation between 
her and the United Colonies being now at an end, 
and being conscious that theii' treatment has been 
such as loyal subjects did not deserve, and to 
which as freemen, we are determined not to submit; 


by the unanimous approbation and direction of the 
whole freeholders, and all the other inhabitants of 
this County, we advise and instruct you, cheerfully 
to concur and give your best assistance in our Con- 
vention, to push to the utmost a war offensive and 
defensive until you ai'e certified that such proposals 
of peace are made to our General Congress as shall 
by them be judged just and friendly. And because 
the advantages of a trade will better enable us to 
pay the taxes, and procure the necessaries for cariy- 
mg on a war, and in our present circumstances this 
cannot be had without a Declaration of Independ- 
ence ; therefore if no such proposals of peace shall 
be made, we judge it to be a dictate of tne first law 
of nature, to continue to oppose every attempt on 
our lives and properties; and we give it you in 
charge, to use your best endeavours that the Dele- 
gates which are sent to the General Congress be in- 
structed immediately to cast off the British yoke, 
and to enter into a commercial alliance with any 
nation or nations friendly to our cause. And as 
King George the Third of GrecU Britain <fec., has 
manifested deliberate enmity towards us, and under 
the character of a parent persists in behaving as a 
tyrant, that they, in our behalf renounce allegiance 
to him for ever; and that, taking the God of 
Heaven to be our King, and depending upon His 
protection and assistance, they plan out that form 
of Government which may the more effectually se- 
cure to us the enjoyment of our civil and religious 
rights and privileges, to the latest posterity. 

" In all other things, gentlemen, that may come 
before you in Convention, we rely upon your known 
fidelity and zeal; resolving and giving you our 
faith, that we Mdll at the risk of our lives and for- 
tunes, to the utmost of our abilities, support and 
defend you, our country and our sister Colonies, in 
the glorious cause in which we are now engaged/' 


" Ordered, That the above Resolves be published 
in the Virginia Gazette. 

" By order : William Jameson, Clerf . 

Mr. Henry was retai*ned as one of the delegates 
from the county of Hanover, and all eyes were at 
once turned to him as the destined leader of the 
body. Among the letters he received showing that 
his countrymen were looking to him for wise coun- 
sel in this great crisis, the following will be read 
with interest. The first is from the Italian neigh- 
bor of Mr. Jefferson, written during the session of 
the Convention. 

««CoLLE June 26>>> 1776u 

" Most Nobls Patriot, I call you by your name. 
Henry came by chance ; Patrick was given with no 
more reason, than John or Richard would ; sir, and 
other titles are words without meaning ; but that is 
a name you have acquired. It is due to you. Per- 
mit me then to call you by that, and no other. 

" As soon as you promised me, that you would go 
from the military into your place (the senate) my 
heart was filled with joy, because I knew you, &» in 
consequence I was certain that you would do it. 
Our noble fiiends, Mr John Page of Roswell & Mr. 
Jefferson, whom I thought my duty to inform of 
your determination, joined with me in opinion, &, 
you will own that they deserved to partaKe of my 
joy, as they had heartly partook of my uneasiness 
on account of your absence from it They knew 
the necessity of your being where you are ; they 
foresaw the calamities, to which we would have been 
reduced for the want of such a man as you in the 
senate at this jointure. But eveiy sensible man saw 
it, although I was perhaps the only one, who did 
dare to awake you, cfe to prove to you that modesty 


in your case was a crime. Now I am easy. You are 
there ; I fear nothing. In my private capacity I 
have endeavoured to do all in my power towards the 
Public welfare. I had prepared some instructions 
for this county, but as you have practised law here I 
don't need to tell you, that we nave a certain clan 
who put themselves in the way to every good thing, 
least the promoter of it should acquire part of that 
influence, which they have totally engrossed to 
themselves. I assure you that 1 have not been in- 
sensible to such infamous proceedings ; but I could 
do nothing. I am intirely in obscurity. I would have 
disregarded the whole at any other tima Now I 
cannot be insensible, because I see that I could have 
been of some real service, had not shamefull jeal- 
ousy throughn obstacles in my way. I have sent to 
Mr John Page a copy of the instructions I had pre- 
pared with the justification of the sentiments therein 
contained & some reflections upon the English con- 
stitution, endeavoring to prove the weak basis <& 
heavy errors of it, my idea in regard to the nature 
of the best Government which may be easily estab- 
lished by us, an opportunity that no People (by 
what we know from histories) ever had before. 1 
have desired Mr Page to have them corrected <fe im- 
proved, and afterwards published. Would you do 
me the friendly favour of perusing them, and be- 
stow your advice upon tnem before they are 
printed. Your time is precious, I know, but I hope 
you will spare as much as that on a subject that 
may perhaps be still of some advantage, <fe to do 
honour to the sentiments of a man, who is intirely 
equal to you in regard to Patriotism, although in- 
feriour in point oi abilities. I should be proud of 
an answer from you with your opinions upon my 
performances ; <fe if it was such, tnat I could show 
without hurting my modesty, or pride, it would 
answer 2 purposes: one private, the other public. 


It i8 cei'tain, that it would be of a great advantage 
to this county, that somebody coula acquire consid- 
eration enough as to oppose the intrigues of the ma- 
litious old fox & all his clan ; because the only able 
virtuous man we have, is quite in the dark of it, & 
often is rendered, without perceiving it in the least, 
subservient to their views. I hope you will excuse 
the liberty I take, <& as to the stile my ignorance of 
the language must serve as an apology. What is 
certain, & in what I may perhaps want expressions to 
signify my feelings, is, that 1 love, admire, & re- 
vere you, as one of the most virtuous and noble 
spirited men of the a^e, no way inferior to an an- 
cient Roman Hero. I have the honor to be with 
respect and esteem. Most noble patriot, 

** Your most obedient & Most humble servant. 

" Phujp Mazzsi.'' 

To Patrick Hbkbt, Juh» Esq* 

Richard Henry Lee, with a full appreciation of 
Mr. Henry^s influence, wrote to him from Phila- 
delphia his views, and ably presented the arguments 
for an immediate declaration of independence, in the 
following noble letter : 

*< Philadelfhia 20^ April 1776. 

" Dear Sik : Having done myself the pleasure of 
writing to you by General Lee I must now refer you 
to that letter, and at present invite your attention 
to the most important concerns of our approaching 
convention. Ages yet unborn, and millions existing 
at present, must rue or bless that Assembly, on 
which their happiness or misery will so eminently 
depend. Virginia has hitherto taken the lead in 
great affairs, and many now look to her with anx- 
• lous expectation, hoping that the spirit, wisdom, and 
energy of her councils, will rouse America fi*om the 


fatal lethargy into which the feebleness, folly, and 
interested views of the Proprietary governments, 
with the aid of Torv machinations, have thrown her 
most unhappily. The 12 years experience we have 
had of the pei'fidy and despotic intentions of the 
British Court is still further demonstrated by the 
King's speech, by the express declaration of every 
Ministerial Man in both houses of Parliament, by 
their infamous retrospective robbery Act, and by the 
intercepted letter from the Secretary of State to Gov- 
ernor Eden. All join in proving the design of the 
British Court to subdue at every event, and to en- 
slave America after having destroyed its best Mem- 
bers. The act of Parliament has to every legal 
intent and purpose dissolved our government, un- 
commissioned every magistrate, and placed us in the 
high road to Anarchy. In Virginia we have cer- 
tainly no Magistrate lawfully qualified to hang a 
murderer, or any other villain offending ever so 
atrociously against the state. We cannot be Reb- 
els excluded from the King's protection and Magis- 
trates acting under his authority at the same time. 
This proves the indispensable necessity of our tak- 
ing up government immediately, for the presei*vation 
of Society, to effect the purpose of applying with 
vigor the strength of the country to its present critical 
state ; and above all to set an example which N. 
Carolina, Maryland, Pennsvlvania, and N. York will 
most assuredly, in my opinion, follow ; and which 
will effectually remove the baneful influence of Pro- 
prietary interests from the councils of America. 
When this is done, give peremptory instructions to 
your Delegates to take every effectual step to secure 
America from the despotic aims of the British Court 
by Treaties of alliance with foreign States, or by 
any means that shall be thought most conducive to 
that end. A slight attention to the late proceedings 
of many European Courts will sufiiciently evince the 


spirit of partition, and the assumed ri^ht of dispos- 
ing of Men & Countries like live stock on a farm, 
that distinguishes this corrupt age. St Domingo, 
Lousiana, Uorsica, &, Polana indisputably prove 
this. Now Sir, I leave it with you to judge, 
whether, whilst we are hesitating about forming al- 
liance. Great Britain may not, and probably will 
not, seal our ruin by siting a Treaty of partition 
with two or three ambitious powers that may aid 
in conquering us — Upon principles of interest and 
revenge they surely will. When G. B. finds she 
cannot conquer us alone, and that the whole must 
be lost, will she not rather choose a part than have 
none ? Certainly she will, and to gain the necessary 
aid give up a part, and thus involve us unaided, un- 
assisted, in a very unequal destructive contest with 
three or 4 of the greatest states in Europe. Nothing 
in this world is more certain than that the present 
Court of London would I'ather rule despotically a 
single rod of earth, than govern the world under 
le^l limitations. AH this danger however may be 
prevented by a timely alliance with proper and will- 
ing powers in Europe — Indeed we are a singular in- 
stances in modem times of a people engaged in war 
with a powerful Nation, without taking steps to se- 
cure the friendship or even neutrality, of foreign 
states — leavinjf to our enemies the full opportunity 
of engaginvr ail. And we know with certamty that 
every maritime state in Europe has been interceded 
with* not to supply us with military stores, and many 
states have l>een applied to for troops to destroy us, 
as Russia. Hesse, Hanover and Holland. Is it not 
the nu>$t dreadful infatuation in us to remain quiet 
in thi$ way and stir not imtil it is too late \ Bat 
no State in Europe will either Ti^at or Trade with 
us so long as we consider ourselves Subjects of 6. 
R Hv^nor, disrnicy, and the customs of states for- 
bid them until >re take rank as an independant peo- 


pie. The war cannot lon^ be prosecuted without 
Trade, nor can Taxes be paid until we are enabled to 
sell our produce, which cannot be the case without 
the help of foreign ships, whilst our enemy's navy is 
so superior to ours. A contraband sloop or so may 
come from foreign parts, but no authorised, and con- 
sequently sufficiently extensive Trade will be carried 
on with us whilst we remain in our present unde- 
fined unmeaning condition. Our clearest interest 
therefore, our very existance as freemen, requires 
that we take decisive steps now, whilst we may, for 
the security of America. It is most fortunate for us 
that the present quit-rent revenue, with the impost 
on Tob*" & Tonnage will do more than defray aliour 
expences of Civil government without fresh Taxes on 
the people, and the unappropriated lands will pay 
the expences of the war. 

" The inclosed pamphlet on Government is the pro- 
duction of our friend John Adams. It is sensible 
and shows the virtue of the man, at the same time 
that it proves the business of framing government 
not to be so difficult a thing as most people imagine. 
The small scheme printed in hand bill I had written 
before 1 saw this work of Mr. Adams, and he agrees 
that the Council of State had better be a distinct 
body from the Upper house of Assembly, meaning 
the upper house; their duration indeed may be too 
long, but it should be for a longer term than the 
lower house, in order to answer the purpose of an 
independant middle power. The sheriffs had better 
I think be appointed as now in Virginia, or by choice 
of the freeholders in each county. 

"The recommendation of congress about taking 
Government is, as you see, of old date, and there- 
fore it is said during the continuance of the present 
disputes. But it matters not much, for the (rovern- 
ment taken up ought to be the best, whether it be 
for this, that, or another tenn of years. This I 


take to be the time and thing meant by Shake- 
speare when he says, 

' There is a Tide in the AfBgdrs of Men 
Which taken at the Flood leads on to Fortane — 
That omitted, we are ever after bonnd in ShaUows,' fto. 

Let US therefore, quitting every other consideration, 
heartily unite in leading our countrymen to em- 
brace the " * 

Mr. Henry was in fuU accord with these views, 
and was so impressed with the importance of an 
immediate alliance with France, that he urged the 
sending of ambassadors at once to the French court, 
empowered to offer American commerce as an in- 
ducement to French aid. And in order to send em- 
bassadors with proper authority to represent the 
Unit-ed States, he insisted on Congress at once 
adopting articles of confederation confined to pur- 
jK^ses offensive and defensive. He doubted the wis- 
dom of making public a declaration of independ- 
ence* till the confederation was adopted by Congress, 
and the embassadors were dispatched, as he feared 
that Great Britain would, on hearing of it, at once 
envleavor to antioij>ate the Americans at the French 
Court, On arrivinsr at WilHamsburfir he met Gen- 
eral Charles Lee* who had been sent to command 
the Si>uthem Department and was eager for an 
immediate open declaration. He mentioned to him 
his views of the proper order in which this aU-im- 
portant matter should be conducted* and this impul- 
sive man* mi;^x»n$truing his position in a measure, 
wn>te him on the ne3ct day the following letter : 

- r^e xvsaxBdcr » Vart fi«a Ike MSl 


** WiLLiAMSBUBGH, May 7**», 1776. 

" Dear Sir : If I had not the highest opinion of 
your character and liberal way of thinking, I should 
not venture to address myself to you. And if I 
were not equally persuaded of the great weight and 
influence which the transcendent abilities you pos- 
sess must naturally confer, I should not give myself 
the trouble of writing, nor you the trouble of read- 
ing this long letter. Since our conversation yester- 
day, my thoughts have been solely employed on 
the great question whether Indepencjgnce ought or 
ought not to be immediately declared. Having 
weighed the argument on both sides, I am clearly 
of the opinion that we must, as we value the liber- 
ties of America, or even her existence, without a 
moment's delay declare for Independence. If my 
reasons appear weak, you will excuse them for the 
disinterestedness of the author, as I may venture to 
afiirm, that no man on this Continent will sacrifice 
more than myself by the separation. But if I have 
the good fortune to offer any arguments which have 
escaped your understanding, and they should make 
the desired impressions, I think I shall have ren- 
dered the greatest service to the community. 

" The objection you made yesterday, if I under- 
stood you rightly, to an immediate Declaration, 
was, by many degrees the most specious ; indeed, it 
is the only tolerable one that I have yet heard. 
You say, and with great justice, that we ought 
previously to have felt the pulse of France and 
Spain. 1 more than believe, 1 am almost confident, 
that it has been done ; at least I can assert upon 
recollection, that some of the Committee of Secrecy 
have assured me that the sentiments of both these 
Courts, or their agents, had been sounded, and were 
found to be as favorable as could be wished. But 
admitting that we are utter strangers to their senti- 


ments on the subject, and that we ran some risk of 
this Declaration being coldly received by these 
Powers, such is our situation that the risk must be 

" On one side there are the most probable chances 
of our success, founded on the certain advantages 
which must manifest themselves to French un&r- 
standings by a treaty of alliance with America. 
The strength and weakness, the opulence and pov 
erty of every State ai-e estimated in the scale of 
comparison with her immediate rival. The superior 
commerce and marine force of England were evi- 
dently established on the monopoly of her American 
trade. The inferiority of France m these two capi- 
tal points, consequentiy, had its source in the same 
origin. Any deduction from the monopoly must 
bring down her rival in proportion to this deduc- 

" The French are, and always have been, sensible 
of these great truths. Your idea, that they may be 
diverted from a line of policy which assures them 
such immense and permanent advantages by an offer 
of partition from Great Britain, appears to me, if 
you will excuse the phrase, an absolute chimera. 
They must be wretched politicians, indeed, if they 
would prefer the uncertain acquisition, and the pre- 
carious expensive possession of one or two Provinces, 
to the greater part of the Commerce of the whole. 
Besides, were not the advantages from the latter so 
manifestly greater than those that would accnie 
from the imagined partition scheme, it is notorious 
that acquisition of territory, or even Colonial pos- 
sessions, which require either men or money to re- 
tain, are entirely repugnant to the spirit and prin- 
ciples of the present French Court It is so 
I'epugnant, indeed, that it is most certain they have 
lately entertained thoughts of abandoning their 
West India Islands. Le commerce et Viconomie^ are 


the cry down from the Ki^ to the lowest Minister. 
From these considerations, I am convinced that thej 
will immediately and fissentially assist us if Inde- 
pendence is declared. Bnt allowing that there can 
be no certainly, but mere chances in our favour, I 
do insist upon it that these chances render it our 
duty to adojjt the measure, as by procrastination 
our min is inevitable. Should it now be deter- 
mined to wait the result of a formal negotiation 
with France, a whole year must pass over our heads 
before we can be acquainted with the result In 
the mean time we are to stru^le through a cam- 
pugn, without arms, ammunitions, or any one neces- 
sary of war. Di^ace and defeat vrill infallibly 
ensue, the soldiers and officers will become so dis- 
appointed that they will abandon their colours, 
and probably never be persuaded to make another 

" But there is another consideration still more 
cogent. I can assure you that the spirit of the 
people cries out for this Declaration ; the military, 
in particular, men and officers, are outrageous on 
the subject, and a man of your excellent discern- 
ment need not be told how dangerous it would be 
in our present circumstances, to dally with the 
spirit, or disappoint the expectations of the bul£ of 
the people. May not despair, anarchy, and finally 
submission, be the bitter fruits ? I am firmly per- 
suaded that they will ; and, in this persuasion, I 
most devoutly pray, that you may not merely rec- 
ommend, bnt positively lay injunctions, on your 
servants in Congress to embrace a measure so neces- 
sary to our salvation. 

"Yours, most sincerely, 

"CoABLES Lee." 

Mr. Henry's own statement of his position ap- 
pears in his reply to Richard Henry Lee, dated 


May 20, 1776,^ and a letter written to John Adams 
on the same day.* 

The information as to the disposition of the 
French court, given in the letter to General Lee, 
was doubtless derived from M. de Bouvouloir, the 
secret agent of the French minister Vergennes, who 
appeared in Philadelphia in January, 1776, and as- 
sured the Secret Committee of the disposition of 
France to aid the Colonies.' That Committee may 
have had like assurances also from Spain. The let- 
ter of General Lee was evidently the first informa- 
tion on this important subject conveyed to Mr. 
Henry. It removed from his mind a burden of 
anxiety, as it was an assurance that his early pre- 
diction that these nations would come to the aid of 
the Colonies, would be verified. 

I See post, p. 410. * See post, p. 418. 

* Dewitt*! Jeifenon and the American Demoonoj, 888. 



Character of Members. — James Madison and Edmund Randolph 
Enter Public Life.—Patrick Henry Leads the Convention. — 
Arranges for General Thomas Nelson to Move Independence. — 
Supports the Resolution ^th Overpowering Eloquence. — ^His- 
tory of the Motion in the Convention. — Opposition of Robert 
Carter Nicholas. — ^Public Demonstrations of Joy by the Army 
and People of Williamsburg. — Hearty Approval Throughout 
America. — ^The Virginia Resolutions in Congress. — Declaration 
of Independence. — ^Articles of Confederation. 

The Convention met in Williamsburg May 6, 1776, 
and entered upon a session which will be ever mem- 
orable in the annals of history. Many new mem- 
bers appeared, but nearly all of the old and tried 
leaders had been returned by their constituencies. 
Among the new members there were some of great 
ability, destined to leave their impress upon the in- 
stitutions of their country. Foremost among these 
was James Madison, who appeared as a delegate 
from Orange County. He was just twenty-five 
years of age, and had been only four years from 
Princeton College, where he had been a distin- 
guished scholar. His pale face and delicate form 
still betokened the student His modesty kept him 
from mingling in the debates of the body, but no 
one who once engaged him in conversation could for 
a moment doubt his extraordinary powers of mind, 
or fail to appreciate the extent and accuracy of his 
information. His powers of analysis and of criticism 


were already developed, and it was said of him by 
one ^ who was his fellow-member, and has described 
him as he appeared in the body, " While he thrilled 
with the ecstasies of Henry's eloquence, and ex- 
tolled his skill in commanding the audience, he de- 
tected what might be faulty in his reasoning." 

In after-years he became not only one of the 
greatest of American statesmen, but the most for- 
midable antagonist in debate that Mr. Henry ever 

The town of Williamsburg had sent, as the al- 
ternate of Wythe who was in attendance on the 
Continental Congress, Edmund Randolph, in the 
twenty-third year of his age. He was of distin- 
guished lineage, tall in stature, graceful in manners, 
and scholarly in his utterances. He had months 
before parted company with his father, John Ran- 
dolph, the Attorney-general of the Colony, who had 
sailed for England, a determined Tory, while the 
son, an ardent patnot, had repaired to the camp of 
Washington. A brilliant and effective speaker, he 
was to be a leader in deliberative bodies, and to be 
the recipient of high honors at the hands of his 
countrymen. Both he and Madison were now to 
receive their first lesson in practical statesmanship, 
a lesson so well improved that their names will ever 
be remembered, interwoven as they have been in the 
warp and woof of the Federal Constitution. The 
Convention, before adjournment, paid young Ran 
dolph the fitting compliment of giving him the 
important office of Attomey-Greneral, held by his 
father when he abandoned the Colony. 

Edmund Pendleton had presided over the last 

> Edmand Randolph in hU MS. matory of Virginia. 


Convention with great dignity, and it was the desire 
of his friends that he should be again honored with 
the position of Speaker. He was put in nomination 
by the venerable Richard Bland, who was seconded 
by Archibald Gary. The well-known agency of 
Pendleton, as chairman of the Committee of Safety, 
in di-iving Mr. Henry from the military service, pre- 
vented his election from being without opposition. 

Thomas Ludwell Lee was put in nomination by 
Thomas Johnson, of Louisa, the county which first 
sent Mr. Henry into public service, and he was sec- 
onded by Bartholomew Dandridge, the brother-in- 
law of Washington. That this opposition was 
against the wishes of Mr. Henry is quite certain, 
from what occurred afterward. Indeed, he never 
allowed his private grievances to interfere with the 
public service, and he well knew the importance of 
perfect harmony in the grave matters to be consid- 
ered by the body. Although he could doubtless 
have defeated Pendleton, he allowed him to be 
elected, and we soon find them working together in 
the important business of the Convention. Mr. 
Henry was placed upon the Committee of Privileges 
and Elections, and of Propositions and Grievances, 
and seems to have acted as chairman of this last in 
making its numerous reports, although his name ap- 
pears second in the appointment He was also a 
member of a committee raised on May 7, to pre- 
pare an ordinance to encourage the making of salt, 
saltpetre, and gunpowder. 

At no period of his life did Mr. Henry display 
his consummate powers as a leader to more advan- 
tage than now. He thoroughly informed himself of 
the temper of the people as displayed in their dele- 


gates, and set himself at work to harmonize the va- 
rious interests in the body, so as to attain, as far as 
possible, unanimity in their action on the overshad- 
owing question of independence. General Charles 
Lee wrote to General Washington, May 10 : ^ "A 
noble spirit possesses the convention. They are al- 
most unanimous for independence, but differ in their 
sentiments about the mode ; two days will decide 
it." Colonel John A. Washington wrote May 11, 
to Richard Henry Lee,' for whom he was alternate : 
^' I hardly think the grand question will come on 
before Tuesday next. . • • When it does there 
will be much altercation, but I believe no danger 
but that we shall determine upon taking up Gov- 
ernment, but whether they may be so explicit as I 
could wish in their instructions to our delegates I 
cannot determine, but hope there is no great dan- 

On the day after the Convention met they fixed 
on the 10th, to go into Committee of the Whole to 
consider the state of the Colony, but on the 9th, a 
resolution was introduced, which was discussed 
several days before adoption, for removing from 
Norfolk and Princess Anne Counties the male ne- 
groes over thirteen, together with disaffected whites, 
and all surplus provisions ; and on the next day, on 
a letter from General Lee, the question of sending 
troops to the assistance of North Carolina was taken 
up, and determined by ordering that 1,300 men be 
raised immediately for that purpose. 

It was May 14 before the Convention was able 

* American Archives (4th Series), vi., 406. 

* See letter in Southern Literary Messenger for Noyember, 1858, p. 


to dispose of these and other pressing matters, so as 
to go into Committee of the Whole upon the state 
of the Colony. Colonel Archibald Cary presided 
over the Committee. The question of independence 
was introduced at once, and was debated on that 
and the next day, when the Committee rose and 
reported the following resolutions, which were 
unanimously agreed to by the House, one hundred 
and twelve members being present : 

"Forasmuch as all the endeavpurs of the United 
Colonies, by the most decent representations and 

g^titions tp the king and parliament of Great 
ritain, to restore peace and security to America 
under the British government, and a reunion with 
that people upon lust and liberal terms, instead of 
a repress of grievances, have produced^ from «^ 
imperious and vindictive administration, increased 
insult, oppression, and a vigorous attempt to effect 
our total destruction. By a late act, all these 
colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of 
the protection of the British crown ; our properties 
subjected to confiscation ; our people, when capti- 
vated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder 
of their relations and countrymen ; and all former 
rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal 
and just. Fleets and armies are raised, and the aid 
of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive 
purposes. The King's representative in this colony 
hath not only withheld all the powers of govern- 
ment from operating for our safety, but, naving 
retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a 
piratical and savage war against us, tempting our 
slaves by every artifice to resort to him, and train- 
ing and employing them against their masters. In 
this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative 
left but an abject submission to the will of those 



overbearing tyranta, or a total separation from the 
crown and goyemment of Great Britain, uniting and 
exerting the strength of all America for d^enoe, 
and forming alliances with forei^ powers for 
conmierce and aid in war: Wherefore, appealing 
to the Searcher of Hearts for the sincerity m, 
former declarations, expressing our desire to pre- 
serve the connexion with that nation, and that we 
are driven from that inclination by their wicked 
councils, and the eternal laws of self preserva- 
tion ; 

^^ JResolved^ tmanimously, That the delegates ap- 
pointed to represent this colony in General Congress, 
oe instructed to propose to that respectable body, 
to declare the United Colonies free and independent 
states, absolved from all allegiance to, or depend- 
ence upon, the crown or parliament of Great Britain ; 
and that they give the assent of this colony to such 
declaration, and to whatever measures may be 
thought proper and necessary by the Congress for 
formmg foreign aUiances, and a confederation of 
the colonies, at such time, and in the manner, as to 
them shall seem best : Provided, that the power of 
forming government for, and the regulations of, the 
internal concerns of each colony, be left to the 
respective colonial legislatures. 

^^ Resolved uiianimously^ That a conunittee be ap- 
pointed to prepare a Declaratiok of Bights, and 
such a plan of government as will be most likely to 
maintain peace and order in this colony, and secure 
substantiiQ and equal liberty to the people." 

The leading part taken by Mr. Henry on this 
momentous occasion is thus described by Edmimd 
Randolph : 

" When the disposition of the peoples as exhibit- 
ed by their representatives could not be mistaken, 


Henry had full indulgence of his own private 
judgment, and he concerted with Nelson that he 
(Nelson) should introduce the question of independ- 
ence, and that Henry should enforce it. Nelson 
affected nothing of oratory, except what ardent 
feelings might inspire, and characteristic of himself, 
he had no fears oi his own with which to temporize, 
and supposing that others ought to have none, he 

{)assed over the probabilities of foreign aid, stepped 
ightly on the difficulties of procuring military 
stores and the inexperience of officers and soldiers, 
but pressed a declai*ation of independence, upon 
what with him were incontrovei*tible grounds; 
that we were oppressed, had humbly supplicated a 
redress of grievances which had been refused with 
insult ; and that to return from battle against the 
sovereign with the cordiality of subjects was 
absurd. It was expected that a declaration of in- 
dependence would certainly be passed, and for 
obvious reasons Mr. Henry seemed allotted to crown 
his political conduct with this supreme stroke. 
And yet for a considerable time he talked of the 
subject as critical, but without committing himself 
by a pointed avowal in its favor or a pointed re- 
pudiation of it. He thought that a course which 
put at stake the lives ana fortunes of the people 
should appear to be their own act, and that he 
ought not to place upon the responsibility of his 
eloquence, a revolution of which the people might 
be wearied after the present stimulus should cease 
to operate. But after some time he appeared in an 
element for which he was born. To cut the knot 
which calm prudence was puzzled to untie was 
worthy of the magnificence of his genius. He 
entered into no subtlety of reasoning, but was 
aroused by the now apparent spirit of the people. 
As a pillar of fire, which notwitnstanding the dark- 
ness of the prospect would conduct to the promised 


land, he inflamed, and was followed by, the conven- 
tion.* His eloquence unlocked the secret springs of 
the human heart, robbed danger of all its terror, 
and broke the keystone in the arch of royal power," 

Thomas Nelson, selected by Mr. Henry to move 
independence, was one of the richest and, at the 
same time, was one of the most popular men in the 
Colony. His family was classed among the aristoc- 
racy, and no wiser selection could have been made 
in looking for a leader who could pledge the weal- 
thy classes to the move for independence. 

In addition to the statement of Edmund Ran- 
dolph, we have some account of what passed in 
Committee in a letter of Thomas Ludwell Lee to 
his brother, Bichard Henry Lee, written May 18, 
1776.' The writer encloses a copy of the resolves, 
and adds : ^^ You have also a set of resolves offered 
by Colonel M. Smith, but the first, which were pro- 
posed the second day by the President — ^for the de- 
bate lasted two days — were preferred. These he 
had formed from the resolves and preambles of the 
first day badly put together." 

Among the papers of the Convention remaining 
in the Capitol are found three endorsed by the 
clerk, " Rough Resolutions. Independence." They 
are as follows : 

No. 1. In HandwrUing of Pa^ch Henry. 

" As the humble petitions of the continental Con- 
gress have been rejected and treated with contempt; 

1 The above extract is from the MS. Hifltory of Virginia. The re- 
mainder of the quotation is from Randolph's acooant in his Bnlogy 
of Edmund Pendleton. 

-Printed in Southern Literary Messenger for November, 1858, p. 821. 


as the parliament of G. B. so far from showing any 
disposition to redress our j^rievances, have lately 

Eassed an act approving oi the ravages that have 
een committed upon our coasts, ana obliging the 
unhappy men who shall be made captives to bear 
arms against their families, kindred, friends, and 
country ; and after being plundered themselves, to 
become accomplices in plundering theii* brethren, a 
compulsion not practiced on prisoners of war except 
among pirates, the outlaws and enemies of human 
society. As they are not only making every prepa- 
ration to crush us, which the internal strength of 
the nation and its alliances with foreign powers 
afford them, but are using every art to draw the 
savage Indians upon our frontiers, and are even en- 
couraging insurrection among our slaves, many of 
whom are now actually in arms against us. And as 
the King of G. B. by a long series of oppressive 
acts has proved himself the tyrant instead of the 
protector of his people. We, the representatives of 
the colony of Virginia do declare, that we hold our- 
selves absolved oi our allegiance to the crown of G. 
B. and obliged by the eternal laws of self-preserva- 
tion to pursue such measures as may conduce to the 
^ood and happiness of the united colonies ; and as a 
lull declaration of Independency appears to us to 
be the only honourable means under Heaven of ob- 
taining that happiness, and of restoring us again to 
a tranquil and prosperous situation ; 

" Resolved^ That our delegates in Congress be en- 
joined in the strongest and most positive manner to 
exert their ability m procuring an immediate, clear, 
and full Declaration of Independency." 

No. 2. In Hanckuriting of Meriweilier Smith. 

" Whereas Lord Dunmore hath assumed a power 
of suspending by proclamation the laws of this col- 



ony, which is supported by a late act of the British 
Parliament, declaring the colonies in North Amer- 
ica to be in actual rebellion and out of the King's 
protection, confiscating our property where ever 
found on the water, ana l^alizing every seizure, rob- 
bery and rapine, that their people have heretofore 
committed on us. 

^^ Resolved^ That the government of this colony as 
hitherto exercised under the crown of Great Britain 
be dissolved, and that a committee be appointed to 
prepare a Declaration of Rights, and such a Plan 
of Government, as shall be judged most proper to 
maintain Peace and Order in this colony, and secure 
substantial and equal liberty to the people." 

No. 3. Believed to he in the HcmdwriUrig of Ed- 

mund Pendleton. 

" Whereas the Parliament of Great Britain have 
usurped unlimited authority to bind the inhabitants 
of the American Colonies in all cases whatsoever, 
and the British Ministry have attempted to execute 
their many tyrannical acts in the most inhuman and 
cruel manner, and King George the third having 
withdrawn his protection from the said colonies, 
and jointly with the ministry and Parliament, has 
begun and is now pursuing with the utmost vio- 
lence a barbarous war against the said colonies, in 
violation of every civil and religious right of the 
said colonies. 

" Resolved^ That the union that has hitherto sub- 
sisted between Great Britain and the American 
colonies is thereby totally dissolved, and that the 
inhabitants of this colony are discharged from any 
allegiance to the crown of Great Britain." 

These evidently were the resolutions debated the 
first day, and the paper in the handwriting of Pat- 



rick Henry was the one introduced by Nelson. The 
three papers differ not only in the grounds assigned 
for the step about to be taken, but also in the man- 
ner of proceeding. All three declare the union be- 
tween Virginia and Great Britain dissolved, but 
Mr. Henry's paper proposes that Congress be asked 
to make for all the Colonies a ^^ clear ahd full decla- 
ration of independency." His gi'eat anxiety that 
the Colonies act as a unit in this all*important 
matter, and that before the Declaration should be 
made public a confederation should be effected by 
Congress, and an ambassador be despatched to 
France to solicit a treaty with that power, will be 
seen in his letters to K. H. Lee and John Adams of 
May 20.^ The resolution in his handwriting was 
intended to be the first step in this direction. It 
can hardly be doubted that Mr. Henry expected 
the Convention to frame a Government, and the 
fact that Meriwether Smith's resolution provides for 
a committee to do this, cannot be taken as an indi- 
cation that he alone of the three designed such a 
step. It was the natural consequence of the reso- 
lution of independence, and had been recommended 
by Congress months before. 

A comparison of the paper proposed next day by 
Pendleton and adopted, with that drawn by Mr. 
Henry, explains why Mr. Henry said of Pendleton's 
paper in his letter to John Adams, " I put up with 
it in the present form for the sake of unanimity, 
'tis not quite so pointed as I could wish." The let- 
ter of Thomas Ludwell Lee just quoted, shows that 
he too was not entirely satisfied with it. He says : 
"The preamble is not to be admired in point of 

I Post, pp. 410 and 412. 


composition, nor has the resolve of independency 
that peremptory and decided air which I could 
wish. Perhaps the proviso which preserves to this 
Colony the power of forming its own government 
may be qaestionable as to its fitness. Would not a 
uniform plan of Government prepared for America 
by Congress, and approved by the Colonies, be a sure 
foundation of unceasing harmony for the whole ? " 

The resolutions as adopted in effect declare Vir- 
ginia independent, without waiting for the action of 
Congress, by providing for the immediate framing 
of a separate Government, which was reported and 
adopted before Congress declared the Colonies inde- 

Although the Journal shows a unanimous vote on 
the adoption of the resolutions by the House, Ed- 
mund Randolph records the fact that there was op- 
position in the Committee. He says : ^ 

" The vote was unanimous for independence, ex- 
cept in the instance of Robert Carter Nicholas, who 
demonstrated his title to popularity by despising it 
when it demanded a sacrifice of his judgment He 
offered himself as a victim to conscience being dub- 
ious of the competency of America in so arduous a 
contest. He alone had fortitude enough to yield to 
his fears on this awful occasion, although there was 
reason to believe that he was not singular in the 
conviction. But immediately after he had ab- 
solved his obligation of duty, he declared that he 
would rise or fall with his country, and proposed a 
plan for drawing forth all its energies in support of 
that very independence." * 

' MS. History of Virginia. 

' Mr. Nicholas had been instmcted by a majority of his oonstitoentB to 
vote for Independence, American Archives (4th Series), t., 1046. 


The passage of the resolutions was hailed with 
the greatest joy by the soldiery, and by the peo- 
ple of Williamsburg. The British flag was imme- 
diately struck on the Capitol, and a Continental 
flag hoisted in its stead. The troops were drawn 
out and a discharge of artillery and small arms 
was had. The Gazette of May 17 published the 
resolutions, and added the following notice of their 
reception : 

" In consequence of the above resolutions, univer- 
sally regarded as the only door which will lead to 
safety and prosperity, some gentlemen made a hand- 
some collection for the purpose of treating the sol- 
diery, who next day were paraded in Waller's 
grove, before Brigadier-General Lewis, attended by 
the gentlemen of the committee of safety, the mem- 
bers of the General Convention, the inhabitants of 
this city, <fec. The resolutions being read aloud to 
the array, the following toasts were given, each of 
them accompanied by a discharge of the artillery 
and small arms, and the acclamations of all pres- 
ent: — 

" 1. The American Independent States. 

*' 2. The Grand Congress of the United States 
and their respective legislatures. 

" 3. General Washington, and victory to the 
American arms. 

*' The Union Flag of the American States waved 
upon the Capitol during the whole of this cere- 
mony ; which being ended, the soldiers partook of 
the refreshments prepared for them by the affection 
of their countrymen, and the evening concluded 
with illuminations, and other demonstrations of joy ; 
every one seeming pleased that the domination of 
Great Britain was now at an end, so wickedly and 
tyrannically exercised for these twelve or thirteen 


years past, notwithstanding tmt rqwftted- prayers 
and remonBtranoes for redreBS." 

Copies of the resolntions, vith a oinmlar letter, 
were sent at once by the Convention to the other 
Colonies, invitnig them to unite in the motion oi^ 
dered by Yiiginia. Her action was hailed witii 
joy by the patriots thronghont America, and glow- 
ing tribntes to the patriotism of the Old DoDunion 
were paid in the private correspondence and the 
public journals of the day.* She was the recog- 
nized leader in this the last, as in the first, act of 
the civil revolution. 

Colonel Nelson at once started for Philadelphia, 
bearing the Virginia resolutions to the Congress, 
of which he was a member. They were presented 
to that body May 27, 1776.* 

A majority of the members were already for in- 
dependence, as had been shown by their resolutions 
of May 10 and 15, recommending to the Assemblies 
and Conventions of the Colonies to suppress the ex- 
ercise of the royal authority, and " adopt snch gov- 
ernment as shall conduce to the happiness and 
safety of their constituents ; " but they were ham- 
pered by the instructions given by some of the 
Colonies to their delegates forbidding a separation 
from Great Britain. These had been given during 
the preceding year, before the great change in pub- 
lic sentiment had taken place. Several of the Colo- 
nies, however, had recently given instructions fully 
authorizing their delegates to take the final step. 
Thus the instructions given January 18, 1776, to 

I Frothingham's Rise of the Il«piiblic of th« XTnlt«d Statoa, Sll. 
* Jtroratd at CoagKn. 


the delegates from Massachusetts, while not using 
the word independence, were so drawn as to fully 
empower a vote for it. The same may be said of 
the instiTictions given to the delegates from South 
Carolina March 25, and from Georgia April 5. 
On April 12, the delegates from North Carolina 
had been expressly empowered to vote for indepen- 
dence, and on May 4, the delegatics from Rhode 
Island were similarly instructed, but in terms not so 
explicit as those used by the Assembly of North 
Carolina.^ These all left it discretionary with their 
delegates, however, as to how they should vote on a 
motion for independence, a motion it was the distin- 
guished honor of Virginia to order her delegates to 

On June 7, 1 776, Richard Henry Lee moved in 
Congress, in obedience to the instructions of Vir- 
ginia, and nearly in the very language of her resol- 
utions : 

"That these united colonies are, and of right 
ought to be, fi'ee and independent States, that they 
are absolved from all allegiance to the British 
Crown, and that all political connection between 
them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought 
to be totally dissolved. 

" That it is expedient forthwith to take the most 
effectual measures for forming foreign alliances. 

" That a plan of confederation be prepared and 
transmitted to the respective colonies for their con- 

John Adams seconded the resolutions, and their 
consideration was postponed till the next day, when 

1 Bancroft, yiii., 449, and Journal of Cooffreas. 


the members were enjoined to attend punctually at 
ten o'clock. The 8 th and 10th Satui*day and Mon- 
day^ were spent in a memorable debate upon the 
resolutions, the body sitting as a committee of the 
whole. They were opposed by James Wilson, Rob- 
ert K. Livingston, E. Rutledge, John Dickinson, 
and others, as premature ; and supported by John 
Adams, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, and 
others, as absolutely necessary for the fui*ther suc- 
cessful conduct of the war.^ 

"It appearing," says Mr. Jefferson, "in the 
course of these debates, that the colonies of New 
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Mary- 
land and South Carolina were not yet matured for 
falling from the parent stem, but they wei'e fast 
advancing to that state, it was thought most pru- 
dent to wait a while for them, and to postpone the 
final decision to July 1 ; but that this might occa- 
sion as little delay as possible, a committee was ap- 
pointed to prepare a Declaration of Independence." 
This committee was appointed June 11, and con- 
sisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin 
EVanklin, Roger Sherman, and R. R. Livingston. 

The chairmanship of this important committee was 
given of course to the Colony moving the resolution, 
and the member making the motion was plainly the 
proper person for that position. Why Mr. Jeffer- 
son was made the chairman instead of Colonel Lee 
has been a disputed question. The biographer of 
Colonel Lee states that he received intelligence of 
the illness of his wife on June 10, and left Phila 
delphia for his home on the next day. But there is 
a letter written by him to Washington, dated June 

^ See Jefferson^s Memoir for a aummazy of the debate. 



13, 1776, at Philadelphia,^ which states "This day 
I set off for Virginia," and directs that a certain 
communication, which he desires, should be ad- 
dressed to him at Williamsburg. In this letter he 
makes no mention of the sickness of his wife. It is 
probable, therefore, that he had determined to leave 
Philadelphia to take part in the deliberations of the 
Virginia Convention, and hence did not desire to be 
placed on the committee to draft the Declaration. 

On June 12, committees were appointed "to pre- 
pare and digest the form of a Confederation to be 
entered into between these colonies," and " to pre- 
pare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign 

On July 1, the debate was resumed, and fresh 
instructions having arrived from several Colonies in 
the meantime, the resolution for independence was 
earned in Committee by the votes of New Hamp- 
shire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 
New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, 
and Georgia ; South Carolina and Pennsylvania 
voting against it, Delaware being divided, and 
New York asking to be excused, because, although 
her delegates were for it, their instructions, given 
near twelve months before, forbade them to vote for 
it. The Committee thereupon reported the resolu- 
tion to the House, when, on motion of Edward Rut- 
ledge, its consideration was postponed till the next 
day, in order to enable the delegation from South 
Carolina to confer among themselves as to what 
vote they would cast. When the resolution came 
up on July 2, the vote of South Carolina was cast 
for it, and new members having arrived for Dela- 

' American Archiyes, 4th Series, vi. , 884. 


ware and Pennsylvania, the votes of these Colonies 
were changed to the affirmative, and thus every Col^ 
ony voted for the resolution, except New York, and 
her Convention, July 9, approved of it. 

The formal Declaration of Independence, drawn 
by Jefferson, had been reported by the Committee 
June 28, and after a discussion running through 
three days, was adopted July 4, 1776. 

The committee appointed to prepare a plan of 
Confederation, reported on July 12, articles drawn 
up by John Dickinson. Instead of being confined 
for the present " to the general objects of an offensive 
and defensive nature, and a guaranty of the respec- 
tive colonial rights," as suggested by Mr. Henry ,^ 
they were elaborately drawn, involving the difficult 
questions of commerce, public lands, taxation, the 
relative positions of the large and small States, and 
the particulars of a government which could not be 
settled but after long delay and much debate. It 
was sixteen months before Congress could agree 
upon them, and it was February 2, 1781, before the 
last Colony ratified them. 

Steps were taken at once for the formation of 
treaties, but these also were long deferred. 

> Letter to John Adams, May 20, 1776. 




Power of Conyention to Frame a Constitation. — ^A Written Consti- 
tntion Determined on. — ^Patrick Henry's Views. — Correspon- 
dence with John Adams. — Flan of Adaons Approved by B. H. 
Lee and PAtriok Henry. — Draft of Bill of Bights by G^rge 
Mason. — ^Patrick Henry's Part in Perfecting It. — ^Analysis of the 
Bill of Bights. — Sources ^m Whence Derived. — Important 
Sections Proposed by Patrick Henry. — ^He Inserts the Principle 
of Belig^ons Liberty. — ^Mason's Plan of a Constitation. — Com- 
pared with Adams' Plan, and the Instniment Adopted. — ^Pro- 
posals of Patrick Henry. — ^Plan of Mr. Jefferson. 

The Virginia Convention was called to meet ques- 
tions of the gravest importance which immediately 
arose upon the determination to declare indepen- 
dence. The first presented was as to the power of 
the Convention to frame a permanent Constitution 
of Government. Edmund Randolph has left the 
following statement : * 

" Mr. Jefferson, who was in Congress, urged a 
youthful friend * in the convention, to oppose B,per- 
mcment constitution, until the people should elect 
deputies for the special purpose. He denied the 
power of the body elected (as he conceived them to 
be agents for the management of the war), to exceed 
some temporary regimen. The member alluded to 
communicated the ideas of Mr. Jefferson to some of 
the leaders in the house, Edmund Pendleton, Pat- 
rick Henry, and George Mason. These gentlemen 
saw no distinction between the conceded power to 

> In Ills MS. History of Virginia. * Doubtless 1^. Randolph himself. 


declare independence, and its necessary consequence, 
the fencing of society by the institution of govern- 
ment Nor were they sure that to be backward in 
this act of sovereignty might not imply a distrust, 
whether the iTile had been wrested fi*om the King. 
The attempt to postpone the formation of a consti- 
tution, until a commission of greater latitude, and 
one more specific should be given by the people, was 
a task too hardy for an inexperienced young man." 

Afterward Mr. Jefferson, in his " Notes on Vir- 
ginia," entered into a labored argument to prove 
that the Convention was not authorized to adopt a 
permanent Constitution, and that the one adopted 
was not in fact permanent, but was liable to be 
changed by any ordinary legislature which might 
assemble. Mr. Wythe seems to have entertained 
the same views from a passage in a letter to Mr. 
Jefferson, July 27, 1776,^ in which he says: "The 
system agreed to, in my opinion, requires reforma- 
tion. In October I hope you will effect it." These 
views were based upon a mistaken idea of the pow- 
ers of the Convention. The sovereignty of the peo- 
ple was represented by the body, else it had no pow- 
ers to declare independence, the highest act of 
sovereignty ; and representing that sovereignty it 
was within its powers, and became its duty, to estab- 
lish a permanent form of government. This view, 
taken by Mr. Henry and others at the time, was after- 
ward unanimously adopted by the Supreme Court of 
the State in the case of Kamper vs. Hawkins.' 

Another question to be met on the threshold was 
the propriety of having a written constitution. The 

* HiBtoiy of Vii^nia (Joneii & Girardln), vol. iv., page 151, note. 
' Beported in 1 Viiginia Gases, p. 20. 



GovernmeDt of Great Britain had always been con- 
ducted under an unwritten constitution, and its ad- 
mirers claimed this to be one of its excellenciea 
The Convention determined to try the great experi- 
ment of a written constitution as the supreme law 
of the State, which, emanating from the popular 
will, and settling the powers of the different depart- 
ments of goveiitment, should serve as a restraint 
upon the people themselves in the exercise of their 
sovereignty, and thus give permanency to their po- 
litical institutions. This marks a new .era in the 
history of government. It is true that in some 
ancient states ^vritten codes of laws were found, 
which have been denominated constitutions. But 
they were the work of rulers, and not of the peo- 
ple, and they mingled provisions which were in- 
tended to be permanent with others of a temporary 
nature. And so in America, the attempts to adopt 
constitutions had been hitherto very cnide, and the 
papers were only intended for temporary usa In- 
deed, being liable to change by the L^slature, they 
lacked the feature of permanency. 

The framing of a Bill of Rights, to include all of 
the inalienable rights of the people, and to serve as 
a fouudatioQ for the new govemment, was an enter- 
prise as dilBcult as it was novel. That the great 
task of framing a Bill of Rights and a written Con- 
stitution was undertaken, and successfully accom- 
plished, by this Convention, will ever cause it to be 
remembered by a grateful world. 

Another question of great importance was, 
whether Virginia ehoold form a separate constitu- 
tion, and leave each State to follow its own inclina- 
tion as to the form it should adopt ; or whether it 



would not be best to ask Congress to prepare a uni- 
form plan of government for all the States. This 
last was evidently the desire of Thomas Ludwell 
Lee, as appears by his letter to R. H. Lee, of May 
18, 1776,^ in which he criticises the Convention for 
determining otherwise. It was also the plan rec- 
ommended in the instructions of Charlotte County. 
That the plan adopted met with the approval of 
Mr. Henry, is evident from his letter to John 
Adatns, of May 20, 1776,' in which, while objecting 
to the resolutions for independence as not pointed 
enough, he makes no objection to them because of 
the provision for framing a separate government 
It is very certain from the letter of Colonel Thomas 
L. Lee, that the matter was discussed in the Con- 
vention, and it may be safely concluded that Mr. 
Henry, in that discussion, favored the plan adopted. 
Had the other been recommended and adopted, 
doubtless the autonomy of the States would not have 
been long preserved. 

It having been determined to frame a written 
constitution for the State, the all-important ques- 
tion remained as to its character. What form of 
government should be adopted ? This was a ques- 
tion which not only involved the future of Virginia, 
but of the United States, as the Convention was re- 
minded by letters that Virginia was looked to as 
their trusted leader, to be followed in this, the 
crowning act of the Revolution. While the Con- 
vention felt the great responsibility resting upon 
them, they did not fail to appreciate the grand op- 
portunity they enjoyed of selecting the best possible 
form of government. Other countries had acquired 

1 Southern Literaiy MesseDger for November, 1858. * Post, p. 412. 


their forms of govemment, they hardly knew how. 
Ofteu these forms had been fixed upon them by ac- 
cident or force, and had held xmder their rule citi- 
zens who had no choice in selecting them. Now 
the world was to see a new and wonderful sight. 
A people discarding their former Govemment, 
while in the midst of a bloody Kevolution, were 
calmly to discuss the true prineiples of all govern- 
ment, and to frame that system which should seem 
best suited for the promotiou of their happiness and 
prosperity. In this great work no one was more 
deeply interested, or more active, than Mr. Henry. 
The Committee appointed ou May 15, to prepare a 
declaration of rights and a plan of government, cod- 
aisted of Archibald Gary, Meriwether Smith, James 
Mercer, Heniy Lee, Robert Carter Nicholas, Pati'ick 
Henry, Bartholomew Dandridge, Edmund Randolph, 
George Gilmer, Richard Bland, Dudley Digges, Paul 
CaiTington, Thomas Ludwell Lee, William Cabell, 
Joseph Jones, John Blair, William Fleming, Henry 
Tazewell, Richard Cai-y, Cuthbert Bullitt, WUliam 
Watts, John Bannister, Mann Page, Boiling Starke, 
David Mason, Richard Adams, Thomas Read, and 
Thomas Lewis. On the next day James Madison, 
Robert Rutherford, and Benjamin Watkins were 
added. The Committee commenced its work at once, 
and had made some progress in its discussions before 
George Mason was added to it. He appeared in 
his seat for the first time on May 17,' and was 
added to the Committee on Saturday, the next day. 
The following interesting letters to Richard Henry 
Lee and John Adams, wiitten the Monday following, 

' Letter of T. L. Lee to E, H. Lee, May 18, 1776, Southern Literary 
HeiBengGl for September, 1SS9. 


show Mr. Henry's views upon the important sub- 
jects engaging him, and bis anxiety that the great 
work of framing a government should be properly 

*' WiLLiAJCBBUBO, Mmy 90, 1776. 

" Deab Sm : Your two last favors are with me ; 
and for them both, I give you many thanks. Ere 
this reaches you, our resolution for separating from 
Britain will be handed you by Col. Nelson. Your 
sentiments as to the necessary progress of this great 
affair correspond with mine. For mav not France, 
ignorant of the great advantages to her commerce 
we intend to offer, and of the permanency of that 
separation which is to take place, be allured by the 
partition you mention? To anticipate therefore 
the efforts of the enemy by sending instantly Ameri- 
can Ambassadors to France, seems to me absolutely 
necessary. Delay may bring on us total ruin. But 
is not a confederacy of our states previously neces- 
sary ? If that could be formed, and its obiects for 
the present be only offensive and defensive, and 
guaranty respecting Colonial Rights, perhaps dis- 
patch might be had, and the adjustment of xlepre- 
sentation, and other lesser matters, be postponed 
without injury. May not the Fishery be a tempt- 
ing object ? I think from the great French force 
now in West Indies some person of eminent rank 
must be there to guide it. The Mississippi should 
be tho't of. I thank you for the hint oi the back 
lands. I gave an opinion, as a lawyer, to Brent, on 
the subject of his and Croghan's purchase, and not- 
withstanding solicitations from every great land 
company to the West, IVe refused to join them. I 
think a general confiscation of Royal and British 
property should be made. The Fruits would be 
great, and the measure in its utmost latitude war- 
ranted by the late act of Parliament, 


" The erand work of forming a constitution for 
Virginia is now before the convention, where your 
love of equal liberty and your skill in public coun- 
eelB, might so eminently serve the cause of your 
country. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I fear too 
great a bias to Aristocracy prevails among the opu- * 
lent. I own my self a Democrat on the plan of onr 
admired friend, J. Adams, whose pamphlet I read 
with great pleasure. A performance from Philad* 
is just come here, ushered in, I'm told, by a col- 
league of yours, B and greatly recommended by 

him. I don't like it. Is the author a whig ? One 
or two expressions in the Book make me ask. I 
wish to divide you, and have you here, to animate 
by your manly eloquence the sometimes drooping 
spirits of our countiy, and in Congress, to be the 
ornament of your native Country, and the vigilant 
determined foe of Tyranny. To give you colleagues 
of kindred sentiments is my wish. I doubt you have 
them not at present A confidential acct of the*, 
matter to Col. Tom, desiring him to use it accord- 
ing to his discretion, might greatly serve the public, 
and vindicate Virginia from suspicions. Vigor, ani- 
mation, and all the powers of mind and body, must 
now be summoned and collected together into one 
grand efEort. Moderation, falsely so called, hath 
nearly brought on us final ruin. And to see those 
who have so fatally advised us, still guiding, or at 
least sharing our public counsels, alarms me. Adieu 
my dear Sir ; present me to my much esteemed 
F.L.L. and believe me, 

" Yr. very affect and obliged, 

" P. Hbhrt, jr. 

" Pray di'op roe a line now and then. 

"To Col. R. H. Lkk. 

" P.S. — Our mutual friend the General will be 
hampered if ' not taken. Some Gentry throw 


out alarms ttat a Cong ^ power has swallowed 

up everything. My all to ^ I know how to feel 
for him." 

** WiLLIAHSBUBG 20^ Maj, 1776. 

" My Deab Sib : Your favor, with the pamphlet, 
came safe to hand. I am exceedingly obliged to 
you for it ; and I am not without hopes it may pro- 
duce good here, where there is among most of our 
opulent families a strong bias to aristocracy. I tell 
my friends you are the author. Upon that suotk)- 
sition, I have two reasons for liking the book. The 
sentiments are precisely the same I have long since 
taken up, and they come recommended by you. 
Go on, my dear friend, to assail the strongholds of 
tyranny ; and in whatever form oppression may be 
found, may those talents and that firmness, which 
have achieved so much for America, be pointed 
against it. 

" Before this reaches you, the resolution for finally 
separating from Britain will be handed to Congress 
by Colonel Nelson. I put up vnth it in the pres- 
ent form for the sake of unanimity. 'Tis not quite 
so pointed as I could wish. 

" Excuse me for telling you of what I think of 
immense importance ; 'tis to anticipate the enemy at 
the French Court The half of our Continent 
offered to France, may induce her to aid our de- 
struction, which she certainly has the power to ac- 
complish. I know the free trade with all the States 
would be more beneficial to her than any territorial 

f)osses8ion8 she might acquire. But pressed, al- 
ured, as she will be — but, above all, ignorant of 
the great things we mean to offer, may we not lose 
her ? The consequence is dreadful. 

" Excuse me again. The confederacy ; that must 
precede an open declaration of independency and 
foreign alliances. Would it not be sufficient to 

1 Obliterated. 


confine it, for the present, to the objects of ofEensive 
and defensive nature, and a guaranty of the respec- 
tive coIoDial rights ? If a minute arrangement of 
things is attempted, sucli as equal representation, 
&c., Ac, you may split and divide ; certainly will 
delay the French alliance, which with me is every 
thing. The great force in San Doraingo, Marti- 
nique, &c, is under the guidance of some peraon in 
high office. Will not the Mississippi lead your am- 
bassadoi'S thither most safely ? 

" Our Convention is now employed in the great 
work of forming a constitution. My most esteemed 
republican form has many and powerful enemies. 
A silly thing, published in Philadelphia, by a native 
of Virginia, has just made its appearance here, 
strongly recommended, 'tis said, by one of our dele- 
gates now with you, — Braxton. His reasonings 
upon and distinction between piivate and public vir- 
tue, are weak, shallow, and evasive, and the whole 
performance an af&ont and disgrace to this country ; 
and, by one expression, I suspect his whiggism. 

" Our session will be very long, dui-ing which I 
cannot count upon one coadjutor of talents equal to 
the task. Would to God you and your Sam Adams 
were here ! It shall be my incessant study, so to 
form our portrait of government, that a kindred 
with New England may be discerned in it, and if 
all your excellencies cannot be pi'eserved, yet I hope 
to retain so much of the likeness, that posterity * 
shall pronounce us descended from the same stock. 
I shall think perfection is obtained, if we have your 
approbation. I am forced to conclude ; but first, let 
me beg to be presented to my ever-esteemed S. 
Adams. Adieu, ray dear sir; may God preserve 
you, and give you every good thing. 

"P. Hekrt, Jr. 

" To JonN Adahb EeQ. 

" P.S. — Will you and S. A now and then write? " 


The reply of Mr. Adams shows his full sympathy 
with these views, and bears remarkable testimony 
to Mr. Henry's eminent services in the Revolution. 
It is as follows : 

'* Philadblphia, 8, Jane, 1776. 

" My Dear Sir : I had this morning the pleas- 
ure of yours of 20, May. The little pamphlet you 
mention is nuUitis filiv^ ; and, if I should be ob- 
liged to maintain it, the world will not expect that 
I should owvL it. My motive for inclosmg it to 
you, was not the value of the present, but as a 
token of friendship, and more for the sake of invit- 
ing your attention to the subject, than because 
there was anything in it worthy your perusal The 
subject is of infinite moment, and perhaps more 
than adequate to the abilities of any man in 
America. I know of none so competent to the task 
as the author of the fii*st Virginia resolutions 
against the stamp act, who will have the glory with 
posterity, of beginning and concluding this great 
revolution. Happy Virginia, whose Constitution is 
to be framed by so masterly a builder ! Whether 
the plan of the pamphlet is not too popular, whether 
the elections are not too frequent for your colony, 
I know not. The usages, and genius, and mannei*s 
of the people must be consulted. And if annual 
elections of the representatives of the people are 
sacredly preserved, those elections by ballot, and 
none permitted to be chosen but innabitants, re- 
sidents as well as qualified f reeholdera of the city, 
county, parish, town, or borough for which they 
are to serve, three essential prerequisites of a free 
government, the council, or middle branch of legis- 
lature may be triennial, or even septennial, without 
much inconvenience. I esteem it an honor and a 
happiness, that my opinion so often coincides with 
yours. It has ever appeared to me that the natural 


course and order of things was this; for every 
colony to institute a government; for all the col- 
onies to confederate, and define the limits of the 
continental Constitution ; then to declare the col- 
onies a sovereign state, or a number of confederated 
sovereign states; and last of all, to form treaties 
with foreign powers. But I fear we cannot pro- 
ceed systematically, and that we shall be obliged 
to declare ourselves independent States before we 
confederate, and indeed before all the colonies have 
established their governments. 

" It is now pretty clear that all these measures 
will follow one another in a rapid succession, and 
it may not perhaps be of much importance which 
is done first. 

" The importance of an immediate application to 
the French court was clear ; and I am very much 
obliged to you for your hint of the route by the 
Mississippi. Your intimation that the session of 
your representative body would be long, gave me 
great pleasure, because we all look up to Virginia for 
examples ; and in the present perplexities, dangers, 
and distresses of our country, it is necessary that the 
supreme councils of the colonies should be almost 
constantly sitting. Some colonies are not sensible 
of this ; and they will certainly suffer for their in- 
discretion. Events of such magnitude as those 
which present themselves now in such quick suc- 
cession, require constant attention and mature de- 
liberation. The little pamphlet you mention, which 
was published here as an antidote to the " Thoughts 
on Government," and which is whispered to have 
been the joint production of one native of Virginia, 
and two natives of New York, I know not how 
truly, will make no fortune in the world. It is too 
absurd to be considered twice ; it is contrived to in- 
volve a colony in eternal war. 

" The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patri- 


— ^ — ^ 

clans, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by what 
name you please, sigh, and groan, and fret, and 
sometimes stamp, and foam, and curse, but all in 
vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be re- 
called, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed 
in other parts of the earth, must be established in 
America. That exuberance of pride which has pro- 
duced an insolent domination in a few, a very few, 
opulent, monopolizing families, will be brought 
down nearer to the confines of reason and modera- 
tion, than they have been used to. This is all the 
evil which they themselves will endure. It will do 
them good in this world, and in every other. For 
pnde was not made for man, only as a tormentor. 

" I shall ever be happy in receiving your advice 
by letter, until I can be more completely so in see- 
ing you here in person, which I hope will be soon. 

" Yours &C. 

^'JoKN Adams." 

" To Patbick Hbnbt Esq. 

It has been thought strange that Mr. Henry 
should write on May 20, that he could not count 
upon one coadjutor equal to the task of framing a 
constitution, when he had on the committee with 
him George Mason. But it must be remembered 
that Colonel Mason had been so recently put upon 
the committee that in all probability he had not 
met with it,* and that Mr. Henry had never served 
with him in any body, except for some two weeks 
in the convention in August, 1775, when no ques- 
tions were discussed calculated to draw out his 
abilities as a statesman ; and besides. Colonel Mason 
won his great reputation after the date of Mr. 
Henry's letter, and mainly by his services in this 

* He was added to the Committee on Satnrdaj, and this letter was 
probably written early on Monday. 


Convention. That Mr. Henry had already a high 
appreciation of him is shown by his urging him as 
delegate to Congress in Angnst, 1775, and in after- 
life he rated him as one of the greatest of statesmen. 

The pamphlets referred to in the preceding let- 
ters throw a strong light upon the labors of the 
Convention, as they show the different plans of 
government before it. 

The publication of Mr. Adams declares that form 
of government to be the best, which communicates 
ease, comfort, security, or in one word, happiness, to 
the greatest number of persons, and in the highest 
degree ; that the happiness and dignity of mankind 
consist in virtue ; that while fear is the foundation 
of monarchy, and honor of aristocracy, virtue is the 
foundation of republican government ; and as the 
definition of a republic is " an empire of laws, and 
not of men," that form is best which secures an 
impartial and exact execution of the laws. It then 
suggests the following plan of a democratic repub- 
lic : 

" 1. A House of Representatives to be chosen an- 
nually by the people, and in such a manner as to 
represent all their interests. 

'' A council, or senate, to be annually elected by 
the lower House, and to have a negative voice in 
legislation. In his letter to Mr. Henry Mr. Adams 
suggested that their terras might be three or seven 

" 2. A governor, to be an integral part of the Leg- 
islature, to be elected annually by the two Houses 
on joint ballot, to have a privy council,* with whose 

* In Mr. Adams's pamphlet the Senate waa to conatitnte the Goyemor's 
Council; but U. H. Lee, in his letter of April 20, 1776, aays that Mr. 
Adams agreed they should be distinct. 



consent be shall act, to have the veto and pardoning 
powers, and to be commander-in-chief of the forces. 
If experience showed it to be preferable, he might 
be elected by the people, and for a longer term, and 
after serving for a certain time he mignt be ineligi- 
ble for a fixed period. 

"3. Judges, to be appointed by the Governor, 
with the advice and consent of the upper House, or 
by joint or concurrent ballot of both Houses. Their 
terms should be for life, or good behavior, and their 
salaries fixed by law. The judicial power to be 
distinct from, and independent of, both the Execu- 
tive and legislative, but the judges to be liable to 
impeachment by the House of Representatives be- 
fore the Governor and Senate ; and upon conviction 
to be removed from oflice, and otherwise punished. 

** 4. Lieutenant Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, 
Commissary, & Attorney-General, to be chosen as 
was suggested in the case of the Governor. 

" 5. J ustices, and all other oflicers, civil and mili- 
tary, to be chosen as was suggested in the case of 

" 6. Except sheriffs, registers of deeds, & clerks of 
courts, which should be chosen by the freeholders 
of counties." 

The writer urges that the militia be armed and 
trained, and the counties and towns be provided 
with the munitions and equipments of war, and 
laws be enacted for the liberal education of youth, 
especially of the lower class, and for the promotion 
of finigality among the people. 

Colonel Lee in enclosing the Adams pamphlet to 
Mr. Henry, in his letter of April 20, 1776, sent also 
a copy of a handbill, presenting a scheme of gov- 
ernment drawn by himself. It would appear by 
his letter that he thought the council of the gov- 


ernor should be distinct from the upper House, 
that the term of the upper House should be longer 
than one year, and that sheriffs should be appointed 
as formerly in Virginia, that is, by the Governor, 
or be elected by the freeholders of the counties. 
In other respects he intimates no difference from 
the Adams plan. In the Virginia Gazette of May 
10, 1776, there appeared a publication which was 
either the scheme of R. H. Lee, or was drawn by 
some one who had read it and Mr. Adams's paper. 
The provisions are strikingly like those of the lat- 
ter, and those concerning the impeachment of Judges 
are similar in phraseology. As Mr. Henry had pre- 
viously received the letter of R. H. Lee, it is highly 
probable that he inserted the publication in the Ga- 
zette. It is so nearly the plan of Mr. Adams, as 
modified by the suggestions of Colonel Lee, that if 
it was not Colonel Lee's paper it was doubtless 
drawn by Mr. Henry from the two papers. It is 
as follows : 

" A Government Scheme. 

" 1. Let the people choose, as usual (where there is 
no good objection) a representative body. Let the 
representatives choose, by ballot, 24 men for an 
Upper House, for seven years. 

" 2. Let the two Houses, by joint ballot, choose 
a governour for one year. Let this be the legislative 

"Let the Governour's Council, or Council of 
State, consist of 1 2 men, to be promiscuously chosen 
from both the Middle and Lower Houses, by joint 
ballot of both Houses annually. 

" 3. Let the Colony Judges oe chosen by joint bal 
lot of both Houses, to contmue during good behav- 
iour, with fixed, adequate, but not splendid salaries. 



** If accused of misbehaviour by the representa- 
tives of the people, before the Govemour and Upper 
House, they should have an opportunity of deiend- 
ing themselves. If the charge is supported, and 
they found guilty, they should be dismissed from 
the offices, and subject to such other pains, penalties, 
and disabilities as shall be thought proper; and 
these ought to be severe, as the well-being of the 
community depends so eminently on judicial integ- 

**4, Lieutenant-Govemour, Secretary, Commis- 
sary, Attorney, and Solicitor-General, to be chosen 
septennially, by joint ballot of the Middle and 
Lower Houses. 

" 5. Treasurer to be chosen annually, by joint 
ballot of Middle and Lower Houses. 

" 6. Justices of the Peace and Sheriffs to be ap- 
pointed by the Governour, by and with the consent 
of a majority of the Council of State. Coroners 
and Constables as usual, if no good objection. 

" 7. The Govemour with advice of his Council of 
State, to possess the executive powers of govern- 
ment, and to have the appointment of Militia 
Officers, and government of the Militia, imder the 
laws for regulating the Militia." 

The address ^ signed " A Native," and recommend- 
ed by Carter Braxton, while admitting that the 
object of government should be to secure the happi- 
ness of eveiy member of society, denies that it is 
practicable to base a government on public virtue. 
It attempts to distinguish public from private vir- 
tue, and denies the former to the mass of the peo- 
ple. The British constitution of 1689 is eulogized, 
and the closest approximation to it is urged. Demo- 
cratic governments are pronounced inimical to ele- 

' See American ArchiveB, 4th Series, yL, 748, etc. 


gance and refinement, to manufactures, ai-ts, and 
sciences, and to the accumulation of wealth. It 
recommends the following plan of an aiistocratic 
republic : 

" 1. A House of Representatives, to be chosen by 
the people every three years. This body to cfaooae 
out of the colony at large twenty-four pei-sons to 
constitute a council of state, or senate, who are to 
hold their places for life, and to constitute a distinct 
and intermediate branch of the Legislature. Ko 
member of either House to be eligible to any post 
of profit, except that of treasurer. 

" 2. A Governor, to be elected by the Assembly, 
to continue in office during good behaviour, and to 
be impeachable by the two Houses. A privy 
council of seven to advise with him, who are not to 
be membera of either House. 

" S. Judges, to be appointed by the Governor 
with the advice of his privy council, to hold office 
during good behaviour, and to be excluded from a 
seat in either House. 

"4. A Treasurer, Secretary and other great 
officers of state, to be chosen by the Lower House, 
and proper salaries to be assigned to them, as well 
as to the judges. 

" 5. Military, and other inferior civil officers, to 
be appointed by the Goveraor. 

" 6. Courts to appoint their own clerks, and the 
justices of the peace to receive pay for their services, 
and to be required to meet every three months for 
the dispatch of business." 

It appears from Mr. Henry's letters that his favor- 
ite democratic scheme had "many and powerful 
enemies" at first. Colonel Mason seems to have 
declared himself for it, however, upon taking his 


seat, and the ablest men in the Convention united 
with Mr. Henry in urging it. This appears from 
the letter of John Augustine Washington to R. H. 
Lee, dated May 18, 1776. He says: "I hope the 
great business of forming a well regulated Govern- 
ment will go on well, as I think there will be no 
great difference of opinion among our best speakers, 
Henry, Mason, Mercer, Dandridge, Smith, and I am 
apt to think the president will concur with them in 
sentiment." ^ 

The struggle in the select conmiittee seems to 
have resulted, soon after Mr. Henry wrote the fore- 
going letters, in a victory for a democratic over an 
aristocratic plan, and the work of framing a Bill of 
Rights, suited to a democratic Republic, was en- 
tered upon at once. George Mason soon came for- 
ward with a draft which has justly entitled him to 
be enrolled among the great statesmen of the world. 
The importance of this paper, which, after some 
amendments, was adopted by the Convention and 
became the basis of civil government in America, 
gives an interest to all that remains to us touching 
its passage through the body. 

Edmund Randolph says:* "Many projects of a 
bill of Rights and Constitution, discovered the 
ardor for political notice, rather than a ripeness in 
political wisdom. That proposed by George Mason 
swallowed up all the rest, by fixing the grounds and 
plan which after great discussion and correction 
were finally ratified." It would seem fi'om this 
passage that Colonel Mason's draft was brought 
forward after othei's had been presented, and that 

' See Southem Literary Measexiger for November, 1858, p. 830. 
* BfS. History of Virginia. 


it embodied their best features. Happily we have 
a copy of his original draft, in his own hand- 
writing, given by him to his sod, General John 
Mason, and now the property of the State. There 
is also preserved among the papers held by his de- 
scendants, a copy, partly in his own handwriting 
and partly in the handwriting of Thomas Ludwell 
Lee, of the paper after it had undergone some 
amendments in the select committee, but before it 
was reported. This is probably the copy sent to 
R. H. Lee by his brother, and referred to in his 
letter of June 1, X776.* The select committee m- 
ported a draft on May 27, which was referred to a 
Committee of the Whole, and ordered to be printed 
for the perusal of the members. A copy of this 
paper was preserved by James Madison, and found 
among his papers.' 

On June 10, the Committee of the "Whole I'eported 
to the House that they had gone through the con- 
sideration of the paper laid before them, and made 
several amendments. These were agreed to the 
next day, and on June 13, the paper so amended 
was put upon its passage and agreed to nem. con.* 

Magna Charta either granted or secured very 
important liberties and privileges to the clergy, 
barons, and freemen of England, but as to the most 
numerous part of the population, styled '* villeins or 
rustics," it only provided that they " shall not by 
any fine, be bereaved of their carts, ploughs, and 
implements of husbandry." The Bill of Rights of 

■ See Sotttlieni Literary Meuengei for November, 1828, p. 825. I am 
indebted to Hiai K. M. BawUnd tor a oop; of thin paper. 

*Thia and the original dr^fc will be found in Itivea'i Hadiaon, I., 
Appendix B. 

' See AppendiK III. 


1689, upon the accession of William and Mary, was 
the most complete statement of the principles of 
govei-nment ever attempted. This was written by 
die great Lord Somers, and it embodied the Peti- 
tion of Right of 1628, written by Sir Edward Coke. 
The Virginia Bill of Rights contained all that was of 
value in these celebrated papers, and much more, and 
as a summary of the rights of man, and of the princi- 
pies of free government, stands, and is destined to 
stand, without a rival in the annals of governments. 

Each section of this remarkable paper excites our 
profoundest interest. 

The first declai*es the equal right of all men, by 
nature, to freedom and independence. This great 
truth is the essence of democracy, and constituted 
the foundation upon which the entire system rested. 
If we inquire the source from which it was derived, 
we find it in Christianity. This alone teaches the 
absolute, exclusive, sovereignty of God, and the com- 
mon origin and brotherhood of man. From it we 
learn that God is no respecter of persons, but looks 
upon each individual as entitled to the same rights, 
and enforces this equality by his command to every 
man, " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'' 

The fact that this declaration would determine 
the character of the new government was at once 
recognized, and the advocates of an aristocratic sys- 
tem stoutly resisted it in committee. 

Thomas Ludwell Lee, writing to his brother R 
H. Lee, June 1, 1776, says: ^ 

" I enclosed you by last post a copy of our declar- 
ation of rights nearly as it came through Commit- 

' Southern Literary MesseDg^r for NoTember, 1858, p. 8^. 


tee. It has since been reported to the CoDTention, and 
we ha7e ever since been atnmbling at the threshold. 
In short, we find such difficulty in laying the foun- 
dation atone, that I very much fear for that Tem- 
ple to Liberty which was proposed to be erected 
thereon. But laying aside figure, I will tell you 
plainly that a certain set of Aristocrats — for we 
nave such monsters here — finding that their ex- 
ecrable system cannot be reared on such founda- 
tions, have to this time kept us at bay on the first 
line, which declares all men to be bom free and 
independent A number of absurd or unmeaning 
alterations have been proposed. The words as they 
etaud are approved by a very great majority, yet 
by a thousand masterly fetches and stratagems the 
business has been so delayed, that the firat clause 
stands yet unassented to by the Convention." 

Edmund Randolph makes the following note 
upon the section.' 

" The declaration in the first article of the bill of 
rights, that all men are by nature equally free and 
iodepeudent, was opposed by Robert Carter Nicho- 
las, as being the forertiuner or pretext of civil con- 
vulsion. It was answered, perhaps with too great 
indifference to futurity, and not without inconsist- 
ency, that with arms in our hands, asserting the 
general rights of man, we ought not to be too nice 
and too much restricted in the delineation of them ; 
but that slaves, not being constituent members of 
society, could never pretend to any benefit from 
such a maxim." 

The Convention were determined to bnild upon 
this broad foundation, but drew back from the con- 

I MS. H!rtoT7 of ViiginlK. 


clasion that slaves could claim the civil rights it 
insured, classing them with infants and imbeciles. 
Within less than a centuiy, however, the logic of 
events has applied the maxim to citizens of all races 
in the United States, 

The first section also declares that men have an 
inalienable right to enjoy life, liberty, property, and 
happiness. This great democratic principle is also 
the gift of Christianity. The essential rights of man 
grow out of his nature, capacities, relations, duties, 
and destiny. It is from the teachings of Christian- 
ity as to these that we derive a just conception of 
his inalienable rights. 

The second section, which is a corollary of the 
first, declares all power to be vested in, and derived 
from, the people ; and that magistrates are but their 
servants. This places the pyramid of civil power 
on its true basis, the people. The world had long 
been accustomed to see governments resting on the 
false and narrow principle that all power was de- 
rived from the rulers, and that the people were only 
their servants. Now the reverse was declared to be 
the true principle underlying government. 

The third section declares, that government should 
be for the common weal, that form being best which 
most conduces to this, and is most effectually se- 
cured against maladministration ; and the right of 
the majority to control, and to change any form 
found to be inadequate. This is also a corollary of 
the first section. The loile that the majority must 
govern, is but an application to politics of the great 
principle of physics, that the greater force controls 
the motion of the body. These sections proclaim 
the great political maxim that government shoiiJd 



be by the people, throngh the people, and for the 
people, and justify the American Revolution. 

The fourth section explodes the idea of an inheri- 
tance in office, and places the right to fill it on its 
true basis, merit. 

The fifth sectioQ separates the legislative and ex- 
ecutive from the judicial department, and requii-es 
the members of the two first to be reduced to pri- 
vate stations at fixed periods. This was a radical 
change of the system which had prevailed in the 
Colony, where the Governor and his Council were ft 
most important part of the judiciai-y, and held office 
for life. Aa the purity and independence of the 
judiciary are of vital importance in any system of 
good government, so these can never be so well pre- 
served as by the complete separation of this from 
the other departments of government. Experience 
has demonstrated the wisdom of the separation. 
The limitation of the terms of the legislative and 
executive departments to fixed periods, as a means 
of preserving the control of the people over their 
servants, is not only a wise provision, but the only 
conceivable way of secuiing the responsibility of 
the incumbents. The principles of this section wei-e 
distinctly set forth in the pdmphlet of John Adams, 
of which mention has been made. 

The sixth section guarantees freedom of elections, 
and in this copies the Bill of Rights, but it goes 
further in extending the right of suffri^e to all 
having a peimanent common interest in the com- 
mnnity, a great advance upon British suffrage. It 
also embodies the principle that no law is binding 
upon the people which has not been assented to by 
them through their chosen representatives, which 


was so distinctly set forth in Mr. Henry's resolu- 
tions against the Stamp Act in 1765, and which was 
the principle upon which the Revolution was being 

The seventh section, which declares that the 
power of suspending laws should only be exercised 
by that body to which is entrusted the power of 
making laws, embodies a principle found in the 
Bill of Kights, and is essential to the proper admin- 
istration of i-epresentative government 

The eighth section secures to every man the right 
to a speedy and impartial trial before a jury, in all 
criminal prosecutions, and provides that he shall not 
be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the 
land, or the judgment of his peers. This was a 
right secured in the British constitution. 

The ninth section, which prohibits excessive bail 
and jSnes, and cruel and unusual punishments, was 
also borrowed from the Bill of Rights. 

The tenth section, which prohibits general war- 
rants, was dictated, according to Edmund Ran- 
dolph, by the remembrance of the seizure of Wilkes's 
papers under a warrant from the Secretary of State ; 
but the experience of the Colonies themselves, and 
the eloquent protest of James Otis, in November, 
1761, were sufficient to account for the section, 
without looking across the ocean for a reason. 

The eleventh section recommends the trial by 
jury as the best mode of settling civil suits, and 
shows the attachment of Virginians to the methods 
of English jurisprudence. 

The twelfth section, securing the freedom of the 
press, was inserted on the motion of Thomas Lud- 
well Lee, and is one of the most important in the 


paper. It is said that Cecil, Elizabeth's celebrated 
minister, after mature deliberation, established the 
first newspaper in England, for the purpose of cor- 
recting false reports, and uniting the people in their 
resistance to the Spanish Armada. The new power 
thus called into existence has been used for the pro- 
tection of the rights of the people against the inva- 
sion of their own government Kothing has con- 
tributed more toward the great changes which have 
since taken place in favor of civil liberty. The 
press is, in fact, a component part of the machinery 
of free government, and that it should be free seems 
self-evident. The sovereignty of the people having 
been established, the freedom of the press follows 
as a necessary consequence. 

The thirteenth, declaring a trained militia to be 
the proper defence of a free state, that standing 
armies in times of peace are dangerous to liberty, 
and that the military should be in subordination to 
the civil power, is a decided improvement on the 
provision in the English Bill of Rights, prohibit- 
ing standing armies in times of peace, without the 
consent of Parliament. These last two sections 
were the fruits of genuine democracy and of histori- 
cal experience. 

The fourteenth, prohibiting the erection of a 
separate or independent government within the 
bounds of Virginia, proceeded, according to Ed- 
mund Randolph, " pai-tly from local circumstances, 
when the chartered boundaries of Virginia were 
abridged by royal fiats in favor of Lord Baltimore 
and Lord Fairfax, much to the discontent of the 
people ; and partly f ram recent commotions in the 


Mr. Randolph has the following notice of the re- 
maining sections : 

^^ The fif teenthy recommending an adherence and 
frequent recurrence to fundamental principles, and 
the sixteenth, unfettering the exercise of religion, 
were proposed by Mr. Henry. The latter, coming 
from a gentleman who was supposed to be a dis- 
senter, caused an appeal to him, whether it was de- 
signed as a prelude to an attack on the established 
church, and ne disclaimed such an object." 

The fifteenth bases free government upon the 
foundation suggested by John Adams in his pam- 
phlet, "the noblest principles and most generous 
affections in our nature." They all may be consid- 
ered as embraced in the word " virtue," and this may 
be taken as the necessary foundation of republican 
government, without which, as the section declares, 
it cannot exist. No thought was more deeply im- 
pressed upon Mr. Henry than this. It was the key 
to his political life, and he emphasized it by his 
latest act, in the endorsement he left upon the 
copy of his resolutions against the Stamp Act found 
with his will.^ The necessity of a frequent recur- 
rence to fundamental principles, set forth in this 
section, is a conception which attests Mr. Henry's 

The sixteenth, as found in the draft pix>posed by 
George Mason, and adopted by the Committee of 
the Whole, is in these words, doubtless as drawn by 
Mr. Henry : 

" That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, 
and the manner of discharging it, can be directed 

> Ante, 81-2. 



only by reason and conviction, and not by force or 
violence ; and therefore, that all men ahould enjoy 
the fullest toleration in the exei'cise of religion, ac- 
cording to the dictates of conscience, unpunished 
and unrestrained by the m^istrate, unless under 
the color of religion any man disturb the peace, the 
happiness, or the safety of society ; and that it is 
the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbear- 
ance, love, and charity towards each other." 

This statement of the rights of conscience ia in 
almost the same words used by the Independents in 
the celebrated Westminster Assembly of Divines, 
and the word " toleration " was of course used in 
its most liberal sense, implying the non-interference 
of the State with the Church. 

After the section had received the approval of 
the body in Committee of the Whole, Mr. Madison 
moved in the House to substitute the following in 
its stead : 

" That religion, or the duty we owe to our Crea- 
tor, and the manner of discharging it, being under 
the direction of reason and conviction only, not of 
violence or compulsion, all men are equally entitled 
to the full and fi'ee exercise of it according to the 
dictates of conscience, and therefore that no man or 
class of men ought, on account of religion, to be 
invested with peculiar emoluments or privileges, nor 
su}>jected to any penalties or disabilities, unless, un- 
der color of religion, the presei"vation of equal lib- 
erty and the existence oi the State be manifestly 

The intention of the mover, as he tells us," was 
" to substitute for the idea expressed by the term 

> Works of Modiaon, L, 24. Note. 


' toleratioii,' an absolute and equal right in aU to 
the exercise of religion according to the dictates of 
conscience.'^ It was a proper amendment^ as the 
term ^^ toleration,'' strictly speaking, implies a 
power in the civil government inconsistent with 
religious liberty. 

As finally adopted, the statement of the prin- 
ciple is in itie words of the first draft, while the 
deductions therefrom, following the word ''there- 
fore," are more broadly expressed, and the word 
''toleration" is omitted. That the section as 
adopted was a more exact expression of what was 
intended by the body in the draft first adopted, is 
manifest from the fact that the paper as amended 
was adopted by a unanimous vote. The full force 
of the principle thus announced was not at once 
apprehended by the Convention, as appears from 
their subsequent history, but it was finally devel- 
oped by the legislation of the State into an absolute 
divorce of Church and State, which was expressly 
based upon the principle inserted by Mr. Henry. 
It has been subsequently engrafted upon every 
State constitution, and upon the Federal constitu- 
tion as well, the latter through the exertions of Mr. 
Henry, as will be seen. The great principle thus 
established is now considered "the chief comer- 
stone of the Anierican system of government." ^ It 
is not only so, but it is so peculiarly American, that 
it is justly described as the contribution of America 
to the science of government 

Freedom of religion from constraint by the civil 

1 See letter of Mr. Bayard, Secretary of State, to tlie Anstrian IGnister 
at Washington, dated May 18, 1885, rebuking the Austrian Goremment 
f6r refosing to receiye Minister Keiley becaose his wife was a Jewess, in 
which this statement is made. 


power, though taught by the Divine Author of 
Christianity, was not enjoyed by his followers. 
Neither Jew nor Gentile ever admitted the prin- 
ciple, and both engaged in bloody persecutions of 
the Christians. For three hundred years persecu* 
tions raged, threatening to exterminate Christian- 
ity. In the fourth century the Roman Emperor 
embraced the faith his predecessors had vainly 

endeavored to destroy. Thereafter an alliance of 
Church and State debased Christianity, and Chris- 
tians became the persecutors. The Reformation in 
the sixteenth century, while attempting to purify the 
Church, did not attack this source of its corruption, 
but rather endeavoi-ed to entrench it. There is not 
a confession of faith framed by any of the Re- 
formers, which does not give to the civil magistrate 
coercive powers in religion. It was the interference 
of civil governments in Europe with the consciences 
of men which, more than all else, peopled America. 
Yet so fixed in the minds of men was the use of 
force to control conscience, that the dissenters who 
fled to America for an asylum from persecution, 
were themselves prone to allow no dissent from 
their religious views, when they found themselves 
in power. The most liberal colonies were those 
founded by Lord Baltimore,- William Penn, and 
Roger Williams. Baltimore only professed to make 
" free soil for Christianity.'' ^ Penn only toler- 
ated those who believed in " one almighty and 
eternal God, the Creator, Upholder, and Ruler 
of the World," and denied the right to hold office 
to all except Christians.* Williams's charter was 
expressly to propagate Christianity, and under it 

' Narrative and Critical History of America, iii. 523. ' Laws of 1682. 



a law was enacted excluding all except Christians 
from the rights of citizenship, and including in the 
exclusion Roman Catholics.^ 

At the date of the Virginia Bill of Eights, al- 
though more than one sect had claimed religious 
freedom, and an absolute divorce of Church and 
State, no civil government had ever allowed the 
claim. Virginia led the way in incoi-porating into 
the very foundation of her goveniment the princi- 
ple upon which religious liberty is based, and in 
doing so completed the great reformation commenced 
in the sixteenth centuiy. 

When we remember that a large number, proba- 
bly a majority, of the Convention were members of 
the established church, we may well be surprised 
that they consented to this section. But it should 
be remembered, that the discussions of human rights 
which the period had produced had caused a great 
enlai'gement of views, in all classes, on the subject of 
religious as well as civil rights, and the growth of dis- 
sent in the Colony had become so great, that religious 
liberty could not be withheld when demanded by 
such a leader of the people as Patrick Henry. He 
seemed, as it were by intuition, to know when the 
popular mind was ready for every political move- 
ment, and he never made a mistake as to the proper 
time to take a step in advance. The adoption of 
this principle as the chief corner-stone of American 
government, and its subsequent progress in other 
portions of the world, indicating that it is destined 
to become all-prevailing as Christian civilization 
advances, with the inestimable blessings which flow 
from it, make Mr. Henry's act in causing its inser- 

* Narratiye and Critical Hiatoxy of America, ilL, 879. 


tion in the Virginia Bill of Rights the most impor- 
tant of hiB life. If it bad been the only act of his 
public life, it was sufficient to have enrolled his 
name among the greatest benefactors of the race. 

An article is found io the paper reported by the 
select committee, in these words : 

" That laws having retrospect to crimes and pun- 
ishing offences committed before the existence of 
such laws, are generally oppressive, and ought to 
be avoided." 

This was proposed by Thomas Ludwell Lee, as 
appears from his letter to his brother, but it, or 
an article substituted for it, was defeated by Mr. 
Henry, as we leai-n from Edmund Randolph. He 
says : "An article prohibiting bills of attainder was 
defeated by Henry, who, with a tenifying picture 
of some towering public ofEender, against whom 
ordinary laws would be impotent, saved that dread 
power from being expressly proscribed." ' 

Thus was completed the Virginia Bill of Rights, 
which stands as an epitome of all histoiy relating 
to the struggles of the human race for civil and re- 
ligious liberty, and a prophecy of the future of free 
government. It is the matrix in which Ameiican 
govei'nnients have been shaped, and as long as they 
last they will hear testimony to the wondrous wis- 
dom of its framers. 

The Bill of Rights having been adopted June 13, 
the Select Committee applied itself to tlie task of 
framing a Constitution in accordance with its prin- 
ciples. The same mastei'-hand that had made the 
fii'st draft of the Bill of Rights, made the fii-st 

' HS. Histoiy of VlisiniB. 


draft of the Constitution.* The plan presented 
by Colonel Mason was ordered to be printed by the 
Committee, in order that it might be read by the 
Convention. A copy was preserved by Mr. Madi- 
son, and is found in his works." On comparison 
with the plan previously published in the Gazette-, 
and with the Constitution as adopted, it shows some 
differences which are of importance; but it is appar- 
ent that the plan of Mason was framed upon the 
plan published in the Gazette, whose resemblance to 
the views of John Adams has been noted, and that 
the Constitution was framed upon the plan presented 
by Colonel Mason, following more closely, how- 
ever, the published plan in some important partic- 

The following may be noted as the most impor- 
tant differences in these papers : 

In Colonel Mason's plan the right of suffrage in 
choosing the Lower House of the Legislature was 
confined to freeholdei-s, having estates of inheritance 
of at least one thousand pounds, and upward of 
twenty-four years of age, with a provision that it 
might be extended to holders of leases of seven 
years, and householders having been the fathers of 
three children. In the published plan the right of 
suffrage for this body was "as usual" in the Col- 
ony. This was confined to freeholders of fifty acres 
of unimproved land, or twenty-five acres of land on 
which there was a settlement, or of an improved lot 
in a town. 

By the Constitution adopted the right of suffrage 
remained as then exercised. Thus the change pro- 

■ TbiB it lUted b; Edmnnd Kandolph in ble HS. HUtor^ of Vi^^ink. 
• Vol L, p. a*. 


posed by Colonel Mason was disapproved, but the 
Convention, in this great experiment of republican 
government, determined to trust their destinies with 
the men who had an interest in the soil, which in 
their judgment was alone ^^ sufficient evidence of 
permanent common interest with, and attachment 
to, the community." 

In Colonel Mason's plan the Upper House, or 
Senate, was to consist of twenty-four members, who 
were to be elected by an intermediate body to be 
chosen by the people, and to be divided into four 
classes, one of which was to go out of office at the 
end of each year. By the published plan, the Sen- 
ate was to consist of twenty-four members, to be 
chosen by the Lower House. The Constitution re- 
tained the number twenty-four and the rotation by 
classes, but required their election to be directly by 
the people, and at the same time that the Lower 
House was voted for, and for this purpose directed 
the State to be divided into twenty-four election dis- 
tricts. The mode of selecting the Senate was a ques- 
tion of great difficulty. That body was no longer 
to represent distinct classes in the community, as did 
the House of Lords ; nor a distinct authority, as did 
the Colonial Council ; but it was to be a representa- 
tive of the people, and at the same time a conserva- 
tive force in legislation, and a check upon improper 
action in the Lower House. The Convention deter- 
mined to have the Senate directly eleeted by the 
people, and to tioist to the longer term and the 
rotation, which would insure a majority of experi- 
enced members, for the conservatism desired. Colo- 
nel Mason's suggestion that all bills should originate 
in the Lower House, and money bills should not be 


liable to amendment in the Senate, was adopted. 
This was not in the published plan. 

By Colonel Mason's plan, the election of Governor 
was to be annually by joint ballot of the two houses 
of the legislatui'e. This was in accordance with the 
published plan, and was adopted by the Convention. 
But both Colonel Mason's plan and the Constitution 
gave the Executive no voice in the enactment of 
laws, and in this were different from the published 
plan. Edmund Bandolph states ^ that Mr. Henry 
urged the Convention to vest in the Executive the 
veto power. The passage from Mr. Bandolph is as 
follows : 

" After creating the office of governor, the Con- 
vention gave way to their horror of a powerful 
chief magistrate, without waiting to reflect how 
much stronger a governor might be made for the 
benefit of the people, and yet be held with a repub- 
lican bridle. These were not times of terror, in- 
deed, but every hint of power, which mi^ht be 
stigmatized as being of royal origin, obscured for a 
time a part of that patriotic splendor with which 
the movers had before shone. No member but 
Henry could, with impunity to his popularity, have 

• contended as strenuously as he did for an executive 
veto on the acts of the two houses of legislation. 
Those who knew him to be indolent in literary in- 

* vestigations, were astonished at the manner in which 
he exhausted the topic, unaided as he was believed 
to be by any of the treatises on government, except 
Montesquieu. Amon^ other arguments, he averred 
that a governor woula be a mere phantom, unable to 
defend his office from the usurpation of the legis- 
lature, unless he could interpose on a vehement im- 
pulse or ferment in that body, and that he would 

* MS. History of Viiginia. 


otherwise be ultimately a dependent, instead of a 
coordinate, branch of power." 

The profound knowledge of the true principles 
of government displayed by Mr. Henry in each 
constitutional Convention in which he Bat, shows 
not only much more extensive reading than he has 
been credited with, but that accurate thought and 
thoroughly poised judgment which constituted him 
a statesman of the highest order. The revulsion 
which had seized the people and the Convention 
against kingly prerogatives, did not affect his clear 
judgment as to the proper powers to be entrusted 
to the Executive, and the experience of America has 
since demonstrated his wisdom. Not only is the 
veto power vested in the President by the Federal 
Constitution, but very few of the States of the 
Union now withhold this power from the Executive. 

The Governor's Council, both in Colonel Mason's 
plan and in the Constitution, was to consist of eight 
niembei-s, to be elected by joint ballot of both 
Houses of the Assembly, two members to go out of 
office at the end of every three years. By the pub- 
lished plan the number was fixed at twelve, to be 
annually chosen by joint ballot of the two Houses 
fi'oni among themselves. 

By Colonel Mason's plan the two Houses were to 
appoint by joint ballot the judges and attorney- 
general, to serve during good behavior, and the treas- 
urer to sei've for a term of one year. The Consti- 
tution made similar provisions, including in the 
officers to be elected by the legislature, to serve 
during good behavior, a secretary. By the pub- 
lished plan the judges and treasurer were to be 


elected and to serve as provided in the Constitution, 
but a lieutenant-govenior, secretary, commissary, 
ftttorney-geoei-al, aud solicitor-general were to be 
elected septeDnially by joint ballot of the two 

By both plans, and by the Constitution, justieeH 
of the peace were to be appointed by the Governor 
aud Privy Council, and thus all seemed agreed to 
coutinue that admirable system, which produced a 
succession of judicial officers for the counties such 
as were never equalled in any country, and which 
did 80 much toward making Virginia a renowned 

A provision was inserted in the Constitution, not 
found in either plan, fixing the boundaries of Vir- 
ginia by the charters of the neighboring Colonies. 
But where these charters did not touch the western 
and northern limits of the State they were claimed 
as fixed by the charter of Virginia of 1609, and the 
treaty of 1763 between Great Britain and France. 

By the charter of 1609, granted by King James, 
the limits of Virginia were fixed at two hundred 
miles northward, and two hundred miles southward, 
from Point Comfort, along the Atlantic coast, "and 
all that space and circuit of land lying from the sea- 
coast of the precinct aforesaid up into the land 
throughout from sea to sea, west and northwest" 

By the treaty of 1763 between England and 
France, the Mississippi River became the western 

In addition to this claim of territory, purchases 
from the Indians, except on behalf of the public by 
authority of the Assembly, wei-e prohibited. 

If these provisions were not liie suggestions of Mr. 


Heory, they certainly had his hearty aupj'toi't His 
letter of May 30, to Richard Henry Lee, shows that 
his mind had already gi'asped the importance to the 
Union of the western territory and of the Missis- 
sippi River, and we shall see him afterward the 
uncompromising advocate of the sovereign light of 
the State to her western territory, and of the free 
navigation of the Mississippi. 

What changes were made in Colonel Mason's 
plan by the Committee we have no means of know- 
ing, as there is no copy of their report in existence. 
The Journal shows that the Committee reported a 
plan of government to the Convention on June 24, 
which was considered in Committee of the Whole on 
the 26th, 37th and 28th, was reported with amend- 
ments on the 28th to the Convention, was then oi'- 
dered to be transcribed and read a third time, and 
was unanimously adopted on the 29th. Mr. Jeffer- 
son, in a letter to Judge A. B. Woodward, April 3, 
1825, states that be sent to Mr. Pendleton a draft 
of a constitution, which was received on the day on 
which the Committee of the Whole i-eported to the 
Convention, and that owing to the indisposition of 
the Convention to open questions which had already 
caused troublesome debates, they could not be in- 
duced to consider his suggestions, except that his 
preamble was -prefixed to the paper adopted. A 
letter of George Wythe to Mr. Jefferson has been 
pi-eserved, dated Williamsburg, July 27, 1776,' in 
which the following passage occurs : 

" When I came here the plan of government had 
been committed to the whole House. To those who 

' Oicaidin'ii Hiatoiy of VirginU, p. 167, not*. 


had the chief hand in forming it, the one you put in 
my hands was shown. Two or three parts of this 
were with little alteration inserted in that ; but 
such was the impatience of sitting long enough to 
discuss several important points in which they 
differ, and so many other matters were necessarily 
to be despatched before the adjournment, that I 
was persuaded the revision of a subject the mem- 
bers seemed tired of, would at that time have been 
unsuccessfully proposed. The system agreed to in 
my opinion requires i-eformation. In October I 
hope you will effect it" 

Mr. Jefferson's plan must have been received 
therefore the day that the Select Committee report- 
ed, which was the 24th, and not when the Committee 
of the Whole reported, which was on the 28th, and 
at the close of the consideration of the papers. 
From Mr. Wythe's letter it appears that while in 
Committee of the Whole two or three of Mr. Jeffer- 
son's suggestions were adopted. They doubtless 
are embraced in the differences noted between Colo- 
nel Mason's plan and the paper adopted. 

Richard Henry Lee, whose presence in the Con- 
vention was so earnestly desired by Mr. Henry, 
Colonel Mason, and others, did not appear in his 
seat in all probability before the day on which the 
Constitution was adopted, as the Journal notices his 
presence for the first time in an entry of his ap- 
pointment on a committee on June 29. His aid in 
the great work was rendered by correspondence. 

There can be no doubt that Mr. Henry took an 
active part in the preparation and discussion of 
both the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and 
that it was due to him, in a great measure, that the 


latter so closely resembled the plan of John Adams, 
which he declared was an expi-ession of his own 
sentiments. That these papei-s were approved by 
him as a whole, though not containing all he may 
have suggested, appears by his subsequent corre- 
spondence, and by die resistance he made to a revi- 
sion of the Constitution while be continued in pub- 
lic life. 

Mr. Jefferson criticised the Constitution with 
much severity in his " Notes on Virginia," but 
though not faultless, it remained the fundamental 
law of the State for fifty-four years, a leogth of 
days not accorded to any of its successors, and 
under its wise provisions the State enjoyed an 
amount of well-regulated liberty which was without 
precedent, and has not been surpassed under the 
changes which have been made. 
. Being the first written constitution of an inde- 
pendent State in America, it was taken as a pattein 
by all the other States, and its influence is also dis- 
tinctly traced in the Federal Constitution, When 
we consider the novelty of the experiment, and the 
times in which it was formed, wa cannot but ad- 
mire the self-control, the calmness, and the wisdom 
of its framers. Nothing could have demonstrated 
more clearly their right to be free than this incon- 
testable evidence of their capacity for self-govern- 



Election of Patrick Henry as Go vemor.— Letter of Acceptance, — 
Important Ordiaances of the Convention. — Sickness of Gover- 
nor Henry,— Addi'ess of Congratnlations to Him by the First 
and Second Virginia Begiments. — Simikr Address by the Bap- 
tist Association. — Replies of Governor Heniy. — Importance of 
the Period nt which Ho Entered upon His Office, Evidence of 
His Great Eiecutivo Abilities Afforded by the Journal. — State 
of tho War in Virginia.— Danmore Driven Away. — Indisji War 
on the Western Border. ^Expedition Under Colonel William 
Christian. ^Riobard Henderson's Purchase from the Indioua, — 
His Claims to Kentucky. — First Appearance of George Rogers 
Cl&rk in Eeataoky.— His Visit to Oovemot Henry. — Aid Ex- 
tended Him for Kentucky. 

On the same day that the Constitution was 
adopted the Convention proceeded to the election of 
a Goveiuor and Council. For the office of Executive 
the eyes of the Convention naturally turned toward 
Mr. Henry, who not only had " set in motion the 
ball of the revolution," but had given to it a fresh 
impulse at every critical period of its course. 

The i-emnant of the old aristocracy, represented 
in the Convention, could not permit his elevation to 
the highest office in the commonwealth without a 
determined effort to prevent it, and we find re- 
peated in the feeling of envy displayed what had 
occurred when Cicero became the foremost man in 

I SalloBt saja of the election of Cicero as consul, " Nam ontea pleraqne 
nobilitac invidia lestuabat, et qtiaai poltni consnlatnm credebat, ai enm, 
qnamvis egregius, homo novna adeptns foret. Ssd, nbi pelicnlDm ad- 
vsnit, iuvidia atque snperbis postfaere," — " Bellum Catilinaiiam, xziii." 



Thomas Nelson, the president of the old Council, 
was nominated against Mr, Henry, and of the con- 
test Edmund Randolph says : ' 

" Nelson had been long secretary of the Colony, 
and ranked high in the aristocracy, who propagated 
with zeal the expediency of accommodating ancient 
prejudices, by electing a man whose pretenBions to 
the chief magistracy were obvious from his being 
nominally the governor under the old order of things, 
and out of one hundred and eleven members, forty- 
five were caught by the desire of bringing all par- 
ties together, although Mr. Nelson bad not been at 
all prominent in the revolution. From every period 
of Henry's life something of a democratic and pat- 
riotic cast was collected, so as to accumulate a rate 
of merit too strong for this last expiring act of aris- 

The vote stood for Patrick Henry, Jr., 60 ; for 
Thomas Nelson, 45 ; for John Pi^, 1. 

George Mason doubtless placed Mr. Henry in 
nomination, as he was made chairman of the com- 
mittee appointed to notify him of his election. 

The Convention on the same day elected for the 
GoveiTiov's Council, John Page, Dudley Digges, John 
Tayloe, John Blair, Benjamin Hariison of Berke- 
ley, Bartholomew Dandridge, Thomas Nelson, and 
Charles Carter of Shirley. On the next day Thomas 
Nelson declined " on account of his age and infirm- 
ities," and Benjamin Harrison of Brandon, was af- 
terward elected in his stead. The refusal of Presi- 
dent Nelson to serve on the Council, shows either a 
chagrin at his defeat, and an unwillingness to serve 

■ MS. "BMotj of TlrginU. 


on the Council of Governor Henry, or such an infirm 
old age as proves the desp^eration of Mr. Henry's 
opponents in using him to further their opposition. 

Edmund Pendleton v^ras certainly among Mr. 
Heniy's opponents, if not their leader. We leaiii 
from Judge Spencer Roane that once in his hearing, 
after the revolution, Pendleton "justified himself 
for not offering for the ofiice of Governor in 1776, 
on the ground that he did not think it became those 
who pushed on the revolution to get into the firet 
offices, and that on that ground he voted for Secre- 
tary Nelson. On v^rhich, feeling that the remark 
was aimed at Mr. Henry, I (Roane) replied, that 
we should have cut a pretty figure if that office had 
been given to a man who was no Whig; as Mr. 
Nelson was said to have been." ^ 

Mr. Henry made no effort to secure his election, 
indeed was so deeply impressed with the responsi- 
bilities of the office that he was unwilling even to 
appear to desire it. He occupied the truly patriotic 
ground, that the office was neither to be sought 
nor refused. 

On the day of the balloting Mr. Henry was 
waited on by the committee appointed to notify him 
of his election, and his reply was communicated to 
the Convention by George Mason at its next sitting, 
Monday, July 1. It appears on the Journal as fol- 

" To the Honourable the President and House of 

"Gentlemen, The vote of this day appointing 
me governor of the commonwealth, has been noti- 

> MS. Letter to William Wirt when preparing his Life of Patrick Henzy. 


fted to me in the most polite and obligiDg manner, 
by George Mason, Henry Lee, Dudley Digges, John 
Blair, and Bartholomew Dandridge, esqmi'es. 

" A sense of the high and unmerited honor con- 
feired upon me by the convention, fills my heart 
with gi-atitude, which I trust my whole life will 
manifest. I take this earliest opportunity to ex- 
press my thanks, which I wish to convey to you, gen- 
tlemen, in the strongest terms of acknowledgment. 

"When I reflect that the tyranny of the Biitish 
king and pai-liament hath kindled a formidable 
war, now raging throughout this wide-extended 
continent, and in the operations of which this com- 
monwealth must bear so great a part ; and that, 
from the events of this war the lasting happiness or 
misery of a gi-eat proportion of the human species 
will finally result ; that in order to preserve this 
commonwealth from anarchy, and its attendant ruin, 
and to give vigour to our councils, and efBect to all . 
our measures, government hath been necessarily as- 
sumed, and new modelled ; that it is exposed to 
numberless hazards, and perils, in its infantine 
state ; that it can never attain to maturity, or ripen 
into firmness, unless it is guarded by an affectionate 
assiduity, and managed by great abilities; I lament 
my want of talents ; I feel my mind filled with 
anxiety and uneasiness, to find mj'self so unequal to 
the duties of that important office, to which I am 
called by the favor of my fellow citizens at this 
truly critical conjuncture. The en-ore of my con- 
duct shall be atoned for, so far as I am able, by 
unwearied endeavours to secure the freedom and 
happiness of our common country. 

"I shall enter upon the duties of my office, when- 
ever you, gentlemen, shall be ]ileased to direct ; rely- 
ing upon the known wisdom and virtue of your 
honorable house to supply my defects, and to give 
pennanency and success to that system of govern- 


ment which you have formed, and which is so wisely 
calculated to secui'e equal liberty, and advance 
human hapoiness. 

" I nave the honor to be, gentlemen, 
"Your most obedient and very humble sei*vant, 

" P. Henry, Jxts.'' 

It is of interest to observe that the final vote 
upon the question of independence was taken in the 
Continental Congress on July 2, and that before 
that date Virginia had declared independence, had 
formed her Constitution, and had elected her Execu- 

The Convention in a few additional ordinances 
made vigorous preparations for the prosecution of 
the war. Salt works were provided for in differ- 
ent parts of the State, and Congress was requested 
to allow exports of provisions in order to procure a 
further supply from abroad; the ninth regiment 
raised for the defence of the frontier was increased ; 
and six additional troops of horse were ordered to 
be raised at once; the entire militia of the State 
were made liable to be called into service by proper 
officers upon an invasion or insurrection ; a Naval 
Board was established with powers to build and 
superintend a navy ; a tax of one shilling three 
pence was imposed upon every tithable person, and 
of one shilling upon every one hundred acres of 
land, in the State, and an issue of treasury notes 
was ordered not to exceed one hundred thousand 
pounds ; the penalty of death, without benefit of 
clergy, was prescribed for counterfeiting Continental 
bills of credit, or the paper money of any of the 
united Colonies, or coin ; and the law for the pun- 


ishment of the enemies of America in the State, 
was amended and made more effectnal. 

The number of delegates to Congress waa reduced 
to five, Benjamin Harrison and Carter Braxton 
being left out at the election. It can hardly be 
doubted that Braxton failed of a re-election because 
of his pamphlet on government, so severely criticised 
by Mr. Henry; and it may be, as suggested by 
Girardin, that Harrison was blamed for the ap- 
pointment of Dr. Rickman instead of Dr. HcClui^, 
as Physician and Director-General to the Conti- 
nental Hospital in the State. Bnt the most prob- 
able explanation is doubtless found in the sugges- 
tion of Mr. Henry to R. H. lice, in his letter of May 
20, 1776, that some of the del^ation were not in 
accord with Colonel Lee, and should be left out. 
Lee and Harrison were unfortunately not in full 
sympathy in their political views, at least such was 
the belief at the time.' 

The Convention felt the necessity of keeping peace 
along the disputed boundary with Pennsylvania, 
and proposed a temporary line to be observed till 
the boundary was properly settled. Petitions were 
presented from the settlers in Kentucky, then called 
Transylvania, complaining of the acts of Richard 
Hendei"son and others, who claimed a large territory 
under an alleged purchase from the Cherokee In- 
dians, and a counter-petition was presented by Hen- 
derson and his partners. The Convention, in order 
to settle the rights of all such claimants to her terri- 
tory, appointed commissioners to take evidence on be- 
half of the State i^aiost the several claimants under 
Indian purchases, and in the meantime it was ordered 

' Randall's Life of Jettenon, L, ch. It., 147. 


that actual settlers should not be disturbed. A pe- 
tition was presented June 20, 1776, from sundry 
Baptists in Prince William County, praying " that 
they be allowed to worship God in their own way 
without interruption ; that they be permitted to 
maintain their own ministers, and none others ; that 
they may be married, buried, and the like, without 
paying the clergy of other denominations." Al- 
though this was in every part the logical conclusion 
from the sixteenth section of the Bill of Rights al- 
ready adopted, yet no motion appears to have been 
made to grant the petition, and no action was taken 
looking toward the dis-establishment of the Episco- 
pal Church. On the contrary the Convention, on 
July 5, the last day of the session, directed the 
prayers in the service of that church to be altered, 
so as to omit all acknowledgment of the authority 
of the King, and to pray for the Magistrates of the 
Commonwealth instead ; thus plainly showing that 
they were not disposed to act upon the principle 
of religious liberty embodied in the Bill of Rights 
until the general sentiment of the people on the 
subject could be gathered. Among the last acts 
of the Convention was the adoption of a seal, 
with the appropriate device reported by George 

^ As recorded in the JouziiaI, the device is as followB : '^ Virtus, the 
genius of the commonwealth, dressed like an Amazon, resting on a spear 
with one hand, and holding a sword in the other, and treading on Ttr- 
AHMY, represented bj a man prostrate, a crown fallen from his head, a 
broken chain in his left hand, and a scourge in his right. In the exergon 
the word VmoiNiA over the head of Virtus, and underneath the words, 
8ie semper tyrannu. On the reverse, a group, Libebtas with her wand 
and pUeui, On one side of her GsRBB, with eamueopia in one hand and 
an ear of wheat in the other. On the other side JBTSRNitAS, with 
globe and phoenix. In the exergon these words: Deui noibu hate aUa 



The spirit which presided at the birth of the State 
is seen in the following record found in the proceed- 
ings of June 25 : 

" Whereas, gaming at best is but an idle amuse- 
ment, when carried to excess is the parent of ava- 
rice, dissipation, prof aneness, and every other passion 
which can debase the human mind, and is, therefore 
forbidden by the Continental Association as more 
peculiarly improper at this time, when our impor- 
tant struggle for liberty and freedom renders the 
practice of the most rigid virtue necessary to sus- 
tain us under and carrv us through the conflict ; 
that this pernicious ana destructive vice may not 
prevail among the officers and soldiers of our army, 
the morals of the youth therein preserved from cor- 
ruption, and they restored untainted to their worthy 
parents, who have cheerfully spared them from do- 
mestic endearments to the assistance and protection 
of their country. 

" Resolved unanimously^ that it be earnestly rec- 
ommended to the general or commanding officer 
of the Continental troops in this Colony to take 
such steps as to him appeal* most proper for pi^e- 
venting profane swearing, all manner of gaming, 
as well as every other vice and immorality among 
officers and solaiers under his command ; and that 
it be, and is hereby declared, to all who are or 
may be candidates for offices, civil or military, in 
the pay of this Colony, that the practice of gam- 
ing and profane swearing will ever be considered 
as an exclusion from all public offices or employ- 

On July 5, 1776, the last day of the Convention, 
Governor Henry took the oath of office prescribed 
by an ordinance of that day. He left Williams- 


burg directly afterward for his home in Hanover, 
doubtless to arrange his private affairs before en- 
tering upon the duties of his office. If not sick 
when he left the capital, he was taken sick soon 
after reaching his home, and was confined to his 
room for some weeks. His convalescence was 
made known by the following announcement, which 
appeared in the Gazette of August 2 : " We have 
the pleasure to inform the publick that our worthy 
Governor, who is now at his seat in Hanover, is so 
much recovered from his late severe indisposition 
that he walks out daily, and it is hoped will soon 
be able to return to the seat of goveinment, to at- 
tend to the duties of his high and important office.'' 
It was not till September 17, however, that he was 
able to take his seat at the council table, as ap- 
pears by the Journal 

His election was hailed with delight by the 
patriots not only in his own State, but throughout 
America, as appeared by letters and addresses sent 
him. Among the earliest of these was the follow- 
ing cordial address from the two regiments he had 
so lately commanded : 

"7b His Excellency Pai/rich Hervry^ Jwn.^ Esq., 
Governor of the Commonwealth of Vtr- 
ginia: — The htimhle address of the First amd 
Second Virginia Regiments : — 

" May rr Please youb Excellency : Permit us, 
with sincerest sentiments of respect and joy, to con- 
gratulate your Excellencv upon your unsolicited 
promotion to the highest nonours a grateful people 
can bestow. 

" Uninfluenced by private ambition, regardless of 


sordid interest, you have uniformly pursued the 
general good of your coontry ; and have taught the 
world, that an ingenuous love of the rights of man> 
kind, an inflexible i-esolution, and a steady persever- 
ance in the practice of eveiy private and public 
virtue, lead directly to preferment and give the 
best title to the honours of our uncorrupted aud 
vigoma state. 

" Once happy under your military command, we 
hope for more extensive blessings ii-om your civil 

" Intrusted as your Excellency is, in some meas- 
ure, with the support of a young empire, our hearts 
are williag, and arms ready to maintain your 
authoiity as chief magistrate ; happy that we lived 
to see the day, when freedom and equal rights, es- 
tablished by the voice of the people, shall prevail 
through the land. We are, may it please your 
Excellency, your Excellency's most devoted and 
obedient servants." 

To which he returned the folIowiDg admirable 
answer : 

" Gentlemen of the First and Second Virginia 
Rboiuents : Your address does me the highest hon< 
our. Be pleased to accept my most cordial thanks 
for your favourable and kind sentiments of my prin- 
ciples and conduct The high appointment to which 
my fellow-citizens have called me, was indeed, un- 
merited, unsolicited. I am therefore under increased 
obligations to promote the safety, dignity, and hap> 
piness of the commonwealth. 

" While the civil powers are employed in estab- 
lishing a system of government, liberal, equitable, 
io every part of which the genius of equal liberty 
breathes her blessed influence, to you is assigned 


the glorious task of saving, by your valour, all that 
is dear to Mankind. Go on, gentlemen, to finish the 
great work you have so nobly and successfully be- 

fun. Convince the tyrants again, that they shall 
leed, that America will bleed to her last drop^ ere 
their wicked schemes find success. 

" The remembrance of my former connexion with 
you shall ever be dear to me. 1 honour your pro- 
fession, I revere that patriot virtue, which, in your 
conduct, hath produced cheerful obedience, exem- 
plary courage, and contempt of hardship and dan- 
ger. Be assured, gentlemen, I shall feel the high- 
est pleasure in embracing every opportunitv to con- 
tribute to your happiness and welfare ; ana I trust 
the day will come when I shall make one of those 
that will hail you among the triumphant deliver- 
ers of America. 

" I have the honour to be gentlemen, 
" Your most obedient and very humble servant, 

" P. Heney, Jr." 

The Colonel of the Second Regiment did not unite 
in the foregoing address, as appears by the follow- 
ing publication in Purdie's Gazette of August 9 : 

" Mr. Purdie. Let the public know that Colonel 
Woodford's name was not among the subscribers of 
the address to the Govemour; that it was not 
presented as containing the sentiments of the col- 
onel, but of the officers and their men, and that the 
colonel was not consulted on the occasion. This 
piece of justice is demanded by the colonel, and 
cheerfully granted by the officers." 

Among those who rejoiced in the election of 
Governor Heniy were the Baptists, whom he had 


80 constantly befriended in the days of their per- 
secntions, now happily at an end. An association 
of this denomination which met in Louisa sent him 
the following admii-able address : 

"To His Mecellency Patrick Mmry, Jim., Esq., 
GrovemoT of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

" The humble address of the ministers and dele- 
gates of the Baptist churches met in Association in 
Louisa, August 12th, 1776, in behalf of their breth- 

"May it please your excellency, as yonr adrance- 
ment to the honorable and important station of Gov- 
ernor of this Commonwealth affords us unspeakable 
pleasure, we beg leave to present your excellency 
with our most cordial congratulations. Your public 
virtues are such that we are under no temptation to 
flatter you, Virginia has done honor toner judg- 
ment in appointing your excellency to hold the 
reigns of the Goveinment at this truly critical con- 
juncture, as you have always distinguished your- 
self by your zeal and activity for her welfare in 
whatever department has been assigned you. As 
a religious community, we have nothing to re- 
quest of you. Your constant attachment to the 
glorious cause of liberty and the rights of con- 
science, leaves us no room to doubt of your Ex- 
cellency's favorable regards, while we worthily de- 
mean ourselves. 

"May God Almighty continue you long, very 
long, a public blessing to your native country ; and 
after a life of usefulness here crown you with im- 
mortal felicity in the world to come. 
" Signed by order, 

" Jeeemiah Walker, Moderator. 
'• John Williams, (Merk." 


To this Governor Henry made the following 
happy reply : 

^^ To the Ministers and Delegates of the baptist 
OhurcheSj a/nd to the Members of Uommunian. 

^^ Gentlemen : I am exceedingly obliged to you 
for yoor very kind address, and me favorable senti- 
ments you are pleased to entertain respecting my 
conduct, and the principles which have directed it 
My constant endeavor shall be to guard the rights 
of all my fellow-citizens from every encroachment. 

" I am happy to find a catholic spirit prevailing 
in our country, and that those religious distinctions, 
which formerly produced some heats, are now for- 
gotten. Happy must every friend to virtue and 
America feel hmiself to perceive, that the only cx>n- 
test among us, at this critical and important period, 
is who shall be foremost to preserve our reii^ous 
and civil liberties. My earnest wish is, that Chris- 
tian charity, forbearance and love may unite all dif- 
ferent persuasions as brethren who must perish or 
triumph together ; and I trust that the time is not 
far distant when we shall greet each other as peace- 
able possessors of that just and equal system of lib- 
erty adopted by the last Convention, and in support 
of which may God crown our arms with success. 

" I am, gentlemen, 

" Your most obedient and very humble servant, 

" P. Heney, Jun. 

" Aug. 18* 1776." 

Among the letters addressed to him, there was 
one from General Charles Lee, dated July 20, 1776, 
in the peculiar style of that eccentric man, which 
contained the following passages : 

" I used to regret not being thrown into the world 
in the glorious third or fourth century of the Ro- 


mans, but I am now thoroughly reconciled to m^ lot. 
. . . We shall now, most probably, aee a mighty 
empire established of freemen, whose honour, prop- 
erty, and military glories, are not to be at the dis- 
po^.of a sceptered tyrant, nor their consciences to 
be fettered by a proud, domineering hierarchy. 
. . . I moat sincerely congratulate you on the 
noble conduct of your countrymen ; and I congratu- 
late your country on having citizens deserving of the 
high honor to which yon are exalted ; for the beinig 
elected to the first magistracy of a free people la 
certainly the pinnacle of human glory ; and I am 
persuaded that they could not have made a happier 

He then proceeded to object to the provision of 
the Constitution, which allows the Governor to be 
eligible for three successive terms, and to the cus- 
tom of addressing ofBcers by such titles as *' Ex- 
cellency," " Honour," and the like. 

Public opinion was not ready, however, for the 
abolition of official titles, and as to the office of Gov- 
ernor, the people were not willing that it should be 
less honored in a republican state than in a royal 
colony. The Convention 6xed the Governor's salary 
at one thousand pouods per annum, the sum re- 
ceived by his predecessors, and ordered that a thou- 
sand pounds be expended in furnishing the palace 
for his residence. In deference to this state of pub- 
lic sentiment, and as if in rebuke of that aristocratic 
coterie which had pronounced him too plain for the 
office, Governor Henry, while retaining his aimpUc- 
ity and affability of manner, now assumed a dignity 
of demeanor which commanded the admiration of 
all. He could no longer be remarked on for his 
plainness in dress. He seldom appeared on the 


streets of Williamsburg, and never without a scar- 
let cloak, black clothes, and a dressed wig} 

Governor Henry was called to the office of Exec- 
utive of his State at the most important and critical 
period possible in her history. With a population 
of about four hundred thousand,' nearly one-half 
slaves, she was entering upon her existence as a sov- 
ereign State, under an untried form of government, 
in the midst of a terrible struggle for separate exist- 
ence with one of the strongest of earthly powers ; 
with powerful tribes of hostile Indians occupying 
her northwestern and western territory, a large por- 
tion of which was claimed by land companies under 
Indian sales ; with a disput^ boundary with Penn- 
sylvania which threatened a border war ; without a 
trained army, or what could be dignified by the 
name of a navy ; and withal lacking in munitions of 
war. The position required executive talents of the 
highest order, and, fortunately for his country, Gov- 
ernor Henry proved to be more than equal to the 

The Executive Journal ' furnishes the fullest evi- 
dence of his industiy, his great executive capacity, 
and his ardent zeal in the cause of the Revolution. 
It is rich in material for history, but only some of 
his most important acts can be narrated here. 
From these the reader will be able to have an ap- 
preciation of him as a war governor. 

1 MS. Letter of Judge Roane to Mr. Wirt Judge Boane says he had 
been ** aocuaed by the big wigt of former timet as being a coarse and 
common man, and utterly destitute of dignity, and perhaps he wished 
to show tbem that they were mistaken." 

* This estimate is tfiken by calculation from Query viii. of Jeiferson^s 
Notes on Virginia. 

' The volumes of his Journal, except for 1779, are preserred in the 
State Library. But his letter-book for the first three years is lost 


The hope of reconciliation which lingered in the 
breasts of some of the men in high poaitiona, had 
caused a lack of vigor in the conduct of the war 
that came near mining the cause of the patriots. 
This was conspicnoos in the failure of Congress to 
take timely steps to raise an army enlisted for the 
war. That Governor Henry saw the danger and 
was aroused by it, is shown by his correspondence. 
As was to have been expected, his inauguration was 
signalized by the most active measures. On July 8, 
General Levris attacked Lord Dunmore, who had 
taken possession of Gwin's Island in the Chesapeake 
Bay. Defeated and driven from the island, his 
Lordship retreated to St. George's Island in the 
Potomac, from which he was dislodged by a detach- 
ment of brave Marylanders, and after committing 
some petty depredations along the shores of the 
river and bay, be sailed out of the Capes, never to re- 
turn to Virginia, leaving firmly seated in the Gov- 
ernor's chair, in his ntead, the man he had but a few 
months before proclaimed as a seditious character. 

As early as June, 1775, John Stuart, the superin- 
tendent of southern Indian aifaira, and General 
Gage, concerted a plan for combining all the western 
tribes in an attack on the rear of the Colonies, while 
the British forces should make a descent on the 
southern seaboard. This plan was laid before the 
British Cabinet, and by it approved, and early in 
1776, orders were issued to carry it into execution.* 
In pursuance of this plan, Sir Peter Parker with a ■ 
British squadron, carrying a strong force under Sir 
Henry Clinton, appeared before Charleston, and the 


Indians, true to their engagement, apon being in- 
formed of the arrival of the fleet, took the warpath, 
and invaded the western frontier, from Georgia to 
the head of the Holston in Virginia. The leaders 
in this invasion were the Cherokees, the most war- 
like and enterprising of the native tribes, who were 
accustomed, by their long intercourse vrith the 
whites, to the use of small-arms, and some of the 
modes of civilized war. They were led by Oconos- 
tota. Dragging Canoe, and The Raven, chiefs of 
marked abilities. On June 28, the attack of Sir 
Peter Parker on Sullivan^s Island, in Charleston 
Harbor, was repulsed by the Americans under 
General Charles Lee, and the intelligence of this 
victory had a happy effect in checking the Indian 
invasion of Georgia, but the parties which had 
fallen upon western North Carolina were not so 
easily diverted from their purpose of blood and 

A most remarkable settlement had been effected 
some six years before, west of the Alleghanies, on 
the Watauga,^ by some families from Fairfax County, 
Virginia, and there had gathered around it, from 
Virginia and North Carolina, a community of he- 
roes whose courage and daring have never been sur- 
passed. This advance-guard of civilization had for 
their leaders three men of genius and daring sufficient 
for any emergency. They were John Sevier, James 
Robertson, and Isaac Shelby, names worthy of all 
honor, because of their eminent services in the strug- 
gle for Amei'ican liberty. Two f oi-ts had been erected 
to protect the settlers, one on the banks of the Wa- 
tauga, called Foi-t Lee, and the other a few miles 

' Edmund Kirke's Rear-goaid of the Revolation, 53. 


to the northwest on the Holston^ near Long Island, 
called Heaton's station. 

There lived among the Cherokees a woman named 
Nancy Ward, said to have been a half-breed, who 
held the position of prophetess of the nation. Like 
another Pocahontas, she determined to warn the 
whites of the danger which threatened their settle- 
ments from the savage war which the British agents 
had incited. On May 30, 1776, she told Isaac 
Thomas, a trader, of the hostile determination of 
the nation, and urged him to inform the settlers at 

Thomas immediately communicated the intelli- 
gence to the settlements, and proceeded to inform 
the Virginia authorities of the danger and the need 
of succor. The alarm was responded to by men 
from the western settlements of Virginia and North 
Carolina, and five small companies, principally Vir- 
ginians, promptly marched to the rescue. These 
were put under the command of Captain Thompson, 
who was found to be the oldest officer in commis- 
sion, and they reached Heaton's Station in advance 
of the Indians. On July 20, 1776, a strong force 
under Dragging Canoe appeared before the fort, 
and the garrison determined to march out and at- 
tack them. This bold move was completely suc- 
cessful. The Indians were defeated with consid- 
erable slaughter, and their chief was among the 
wounded. . 

On July 21, the division under Oconostota at- 
tacked Fort Lee and suffered a repulse, but they 
continued the siege for several days, and finally re- 
tired upon hearing that reinforcements were march- 
ing to the relief of the fort. 




Upon being repnlaed mt Heaton^s Station, the In- 
dians broke up into manuiding putieB^ one of whicli 
entered the vaUey of the dbidi, and penetrated as 
far as the Wolf Hills^ near the present town of 
Abingdon, canying fire and maasaoe into eveiy 

On Jnly 22, the Execntire Joomal^ notes the 
receipt of letters from Creneral Charies Lee, and 
John Hntledge, President of Sooth Canolina, con- 
veying information of hc^dlities commitied by the 
Cherokees. and that an expedition woold at once be 
sent against their lower town$ by the two Carolinas, 
and asking Virginia to send an expedition against 
their upper towns, called Orer HilL Hie Council 
thereupon order^sd Colonel Charies Lewis with his 
battalion of minute-men to mandi &ir that pnipose, 
and on August 1. upon hearii^ of the depredations 
in Clinch Valley, increased the foree. and a^^pointed 
Colonel WiUiam Chriscan conananderin^hief of all 
the forws raisei, or lo be raisied. for tibe expedition. 

£ran Shelbv as kis major. In ihe instrnctions 
given to Co lonei t* hrisdaa, he was direetied. in case 
the Irsiians were f orv>ed to soe for pedieift. to require a 
sufSoient number of ;}ieir c^aefs afid wazrkw^ as hos- 
tages CO insore ihe perfoRnaz^o^ of the ireaay« and 
also lo insisi on :he:r givisg :ip all prisioaMc^ and all 
persons airs>ng theci wbo had Veec: «sM«iMd in 
brb^in^ c^n lie war : a;:2d especialhr Siaan. Casn- 
eiv^n. ani G:>l :}:r •lL:>=ir Briiisi ecdssineS' wio were 

TO go 1^'^ 


Hefttou^s Station, where were Boon gathered several 
companies, who were joined by three or foar hun- 
dred North Carolina militia under Colonel Joseph 
Williams, Colonel Love, and Major Winston. To 
these were added some of the garrisons of the f orta 
The little army at once set out for the Indian towns, 
some two hundred miles distant, with Isaac Thomas 
as guide, Jmiim R obertson^ in command of the 
Watauga men^ afl'a^Joh n _' S^v^y , at the head of a 
select body of scouta^TlIe Indians had retired be- 
yond the French Broad upon hearing of the gather- 
ing of troops at tbe Great Island, and a body of 
three thousand waniore prepared to dispute the 
passage of that beautiful river, which they had 
boasted should never be crossed by a hostile white 
man. Colonel Christian, under the guidance of 
Isaac Thomas, crossed the river near what is now 
known as Buckingham's Island, and to his surprise 
found that the Indians bad suddenly detei-mined to 
retreat to the fastnesses of their mountains. After 
punishing their unprovoked attack upon the settle- 
ments by destroying their towns and laying waste 
their fields, sparing those who had been disposed to 
peace, Colonel Christian invited a conference^ This 
was gladly responded to by a number of chiefs, who 
proposed peace. Their request was granted, and a 
convention was entered into, but not to take effect 
till a treaty should be made by representatives from 
the whole tribe, who were invited to meet commis- 
sioners from Virginia in May following, at Heaton's 
Station. Colonel Christian then marched his troops 
back to this point, where most of them were dis- 
banded, and the remainder were put into winter 
quarters in a new fort erected and called "Fort 


Patrick Henry," ' which was believed to be within 
the limits of Virginia, the dividing line not having 
been run further west than the Alleghany Mountains. 

On January 13, 1777, the Governor and Council 
appointed Colonel William Christian, Colonel Will- 
iam Preston, and Major Evan Shelby, commission- 
ers to treat with the Cherokees. On May 23, they 
reported that they had arranged terms of a treaty, 
and that they had brought with them to Williams- 
burg several of the Indian chiefs and warriors. The 
General Assembly, then in session, directed the 
Governor and Council to complete the treaty thus 
arranged, at a meeting of the commissioners, to be 
held at the fort on June 26, 1777. 

Dragging Canoe refused to attend these meetings, 
or to make peace with the whites, but the further 
breaking out of hostilities was for some time pre- 
vented by that provision of the treaty which per- 
mitted James Robertson to dwell among the Indians 
as a commissioner. 

By this treaty a new line was run between the 
white people of Virginia and the Cherokees, which 
was t<o the west of that run by Donelson. It com- 
menced at the Great Island in the Holston River, 
" thence niDning a straight line to a high point on 
Cumberland Mountain, between three and five miles 
below or westward of the Great Gap, which leads 
to the settlement of Kentucky." ' Here it stopped. 

By this new line the settlements in Kentucky 

' BaniMj, in hla History of Tenneasee, pp. 185-9, giye* qniM a fnl] ac- 
coant of Uiia ezpedUion. The report of Colonel Chrutfan, it li boliared, 
KU token from the aiobiveB of the State daring the oocnpation of Bich- 
mond b; the Federal tioope in 1805. 

' S«e material putt of the treatj redted in tbe osm of Poteidold M; 
Clark, 2 Howard, U. S. ReporU, III., eto. 


were expected to be protected from interruption, as 
well as the settlers between the Holston River and 
Cumberland Mountain. 

At the treaty of Fort Stanwix, in November, 
1768, the Six Nations, claiming as conquerors of 
the Shawanese, ceded to the King of Great Britain 
all the country on the southerly side of the river 
Ohio, as far as the Cherokee, or Tennessee, River. 
At that time it was stated that this country was not 
claimed by the Cherokees, whose settlements were 
to the south.^ Although several adventurous per- 
sons visited the country before and after the trea- 
ty, among whom may be mentioned Dr. Thomas 
Walker, of Virginia, and John Finly and Daniel 
Boone, of North Carolina, yet it was not till 1774 
that a settlement was effected west of the Kentucky 
River. In that year James Harrod, from the coun- 
try on the Monongahela, ascended the Kentucky 
River and built the first log cabin in Kentucky, 
upon the present site of Harrodsburg.' The settle? 
ments, after the peace between the Indians and 
Lord Dunmore, increased rapidly, so that by May, 
1775, there were three hundred settlers.' 

Notwithstanding the treaty of Fort Stanwix, the 
Cherokees claimed the country as their hunting 
ground, and on March 17, 1775, they were induced, 
by Richard Henderson, of North Carolina, and the 
persons associated with him, to formally convey 
their rights to them. This treaty was made at 
Watauga, and the territory deeded was described as 

" All the tract or territory of lands now called by 
the name of Transsylvania, lying on the Ohio River 

' So stated by the Indian agents, Works of Franklin, voL iv., P* 832. 

^ Butler's Kentucky, p. 26. ' Idem, p. 80. 



and the wmters tliereo^ branches of the Missiasippiy 
and bounded as follows: Beginning on the said 
Ohio RiT^r« at the month of the Cantuckey Chenoee, 
or what by the Englisli is called Louisa River ; from 
thence nmninc np the said river and most north- 
wardly fork c$ the same to the head spring thereof ; 
thenc^ a southeast course to the top ridge of Pow- 
elFs Mountain ; thence wes t w a rdly alon^ the rid£|e 
of said mountain unto a point from which a norto- 
wwt fXHtrse will hit or strike the head spring of the 
nio^t southwaidly branch of Cumberland River; 
thence down the said river, including all its waters, 
to the Ohio River : thence up the said river as it 
metanders to the beginning/' ^ 

This territory embraced much the larger part of 
the pre^nt State of Kentucky, and a part of the 
State of Tennessee, and this magnificent domain 
was SH^ld by the Cherokees, or rather their doubtful 
riijht* in it^ for a parcel of goods worth only a few 
thousand dollars. It was said that Oconostota, 
when the treaty had been signed, said to Daniel 
BiH^ue« who had been mainly instrumental in effect- 
iujj it^ ** Young man, we have sold you a fine terri- 
tory : but I fear you will have some difliculty in 
j^^ttinjr it settled." The remark proved to be a 
pn>phtvy of the treacherous policy of the Indians, 
which caused Kentucky to be known as '^ the dark 
and bUxxly ground.*' 

With this claim of title Henderson & Ca es- 
tablisheil a land oflice, and commenced to dispose 
of the lands to settlers, reserving a half interest in 
the ores and also an annual rental for the land. 
During the year 1775, a body consisting of eighteen 

^ Batler't Kentucky, p. 13. 


delegates, styled a convention, met at Boonesbor- 
ougli, acknowledged the proprietorship of Hen- 
derson & Co., and proceeded to establish courts, 
and otherwise organize a territorial govemment.' 
These proceedings caused great diasatisfactiou 
among some of the settlers, who appealed to the 
Virginia Convention for redress. Henderson & 
Co. presented a counter-petition to that body, 
and the action taken has been noted. Muiy depo- 
sitions were taken in pursuance of the resolution 
of the Convention,* and an effort was made to con- 
nect Governor Henry with some of the land com- 
panies which had made purchases of the Indians. 
This led to the taking of his deposition, which 
not only fully exonerated him from any connec- 
tioD with these purchases, so liable to suspicion 
from their enormous extent and insignificant con- 
sideratioii, but showed that his conduct as a public 
man was actuated by the highest motives, and 
that he was not willing to occupy a position in 
which his private interest might conflict with his 
public duty. 

The following is his deposition : 

WiLLUMBBURG, Jane 4<^ 1777. 

*' The Deposition of Patrick Henry esquire ; who 
being first duly sworn, deposeth & saith : 

" That early in the year one thousand seven hun- 
dred & Seventy-four, as well as he remembers, the 
Hon'''" W" Byrd Esq' dec'* having said that the 
Cherokee Indians had offered to give him a tract of 
land some years before, & falling into conversation 

' Bntlei'i Eentnokj, 30. 

' Se« them in toL t. of Calradnr of TliginU 8t«to Papan. 


on that Subject, with this deponent, He, the said 
W" Byrd, together with the Honorable John Page 
Esq' dec'', & this depouent, agreed to send a certain 
Mr. Kennedy to the Cherokee Nation, to see if they 
were willing to part with some of their land, on the 
Waters of their own Rivera in Virginia, to Convey 
the same to them & not for the State— Col" Chris- 
tian was to be a partner, if the scheme succeeded — 
Upon Mr. Kennedy's return he Informed this De- 
ponent that he had been to Col. Byrd's, & had let 
liim know the answer of Some of the Indian Chiefs ; 
&, communicated the same to this Deponent, which 
was, that they were willing to treat on the Subject 
— Not long after this and before any treaty waa 
Resolved on, the Troubles with great Britain 
seemed to threaten serious consequences, <fe this De- 
jionent became a member of the first Virginia Con- 
vention, &, a member of the first Continental Con- 
:re8s, upon which he determined with himself to 
lisclaim all Concern and Connection with Indian 
Purchases, for the Reasons following, that is to say 
— He was informed shortly after his arrival at Con- 
gress, of many Purchases of Indian Lands, shai'es 
in most or all of which were offered to this Depon- 
ent, & Constantly refused by him, because oi the 
Enormity in the Extent to which the Bounds of 
those purchases were carryed — Another Reason for 
this Refusal was, deponent, being a member of both 
Congress & Convention, conceived it improper for 
him to be concerned as a party in any of these 
partnerships ; on which it was pi-obable he might 
decide as a Jodg^e — The Deponent says he was fur- 
ther fixed in his Determination not to be concerned 
in any Indian Purchase whatever, on the prospect 
of the present War, by which the Sovereignty & 
Right of Disposal in the soil of America would 
probably be claimed by American States. After 
conversing with the 8' W" Byrd, & Communicating 



his Sentiments freely on the Subject, the Deponent 
said that the scheme dropt : nor did it proceed fur- 
ther than is above related. 

" The Deponent further says, that Mr. Henderson 
& his Partners very soon after their supposed Pur- 
chase, joined in a Letter to this Deponent: in 
which was Contained as this Deponent thinks, a 
Distant though plain Hint, that ne the Deponent 
might be a partner with them. 

^^ The Deponent also says he rec'd a great number 
of Messages from Messrs. Henderson & Co., in- 
viting him to be a partner. That Mr. Henderson 
in his own Person, JSl Mr. Allen Jones (a Partner in 
the Purchase) both apply'd to the Deponent to 
join them in their scheme, but the Deponent uni- 
formly refused, & plainly Declared his Strongest 
Disapprobation of their whole proceedings ; giving 
as a Keason that the People of Virginia had a right 
to the back Countiy, derived from their Charter & 
the Blood &, Treasure they expended on that ac- 
count. The Deponent says that he is not now, nor 
ever has been, concerned directly or indirectly in 
any Indian Purchase of Lands, & that he knoweth 
nothing of Mr. Henderson's contract. 

" The Deponent being asked whether application 
to the Legislature or the Crown, was made for 
leave to Purchase Lands of the Cherokees by the 
said W°* Byrd, or any other Person in the matter 
aforesaid. He answereth that no such application 
was made that he knows of, that the only proposal 
to the Indians was to know if they would treat on 
the Subject, & further saith not." 

" Sworn to before 

" Jo : Pbentis 
" R. Kello." 

In the spring of 1775 there appeared among the 
Kentucky settlements, a man of fine military ap- 


pearance, of great intelligence, and most attractive 
manners, who was destined to exert a marked influ- 
ence not only upon the histoiy of Kentucky, but 
upon that of the United States. This was George 
Rogers Clark. He was a native of Albemarle 
County, Va., where he was a neighbor and favorite 
of Thomas Jefferson. Aa a boy he had often ridden 
to Shadwell Mills upon a bag of com ; coming to 
manhood he was led by his love of mathematics to 
take np the business of a surveyor. During Dun- 
more's Indian War he commanded a company, and 
was ehgaged in the only active operations of the right 
wing of Dunmore's forces. At the close of this war 
he was offered a commission in the English service, 
but the political troubles, already become very seri- 
ous, induced bim to decline the offer. He had not 
been long in Kentucky before he was placed in com- 
mand of the militia, and at once became the most 
prominent man in the settlements. He was deeply 
impressed with the importance of this frontier cotm- 
try to Virginia, and to the whole Confederacy, and 
determined to exert himself for the foimatioa of 
closer relations vrith the parent State. Accordingly 
he called a general meeting of the settlers at Har- 
rodBborg on June 6, 1V76, with a view of appoint- 
ing deputies to treat with the Virginia Convention, 
in order to secure certain advantages as a condition 
of their declaring themselveB citizens of Virginia. 
In case these were not granted, he intended to lead 
in the establishment of an independent community. 
Being detained from the place of meeting till late 
in the afternoon, he found the people, in ignorance of 
his designs, had determined to send him and Gabriel 
Jones as delegates to the Convention, with a peti- 


tion praying that the country might be formed into 
a new county. 

In a few days Clark and Jones set out for Will- 
iamsburg, a journey of some five hundred miles. 
Their way led through a wilderness, in which 
they were constantly liable to be attacked by the 
savages, making it dangerous to kindle fires at 
night The loss of one of their horses, and the 
extreme wetness of the season, brought on a most 
painful affliction, called by the hunters, scald feet. 
On reaching Botetourt Counly they learned that 
the Convention had. adjourned. Jones thereupon 
joined the forces which Colonel Christian was rais- 
ing for his Cherokee expedition, while Clark deter- 
mined to go to Williamsburg, and attempt to pro- 
cure powder for the Kentuckians, of which they 
stood in great need. Hearing that the Governor 
was sick at his home, Clark visited him there. 
This, which was probably the first meeting of these 
remarkable men, was fraught with the gravest con- 
sequences to their country. Clark produced the 
evidences of his appointment, and detailed the con- 
dition of affairs in Kentucky, and the need of pow- 
der for its defence. Governor Henry fully appreci- 
ated the importance of affording the aid which was 
asked, and wrote a letter to the Council urging that 
the proper order be made. With this letter Clark 
visited Williamsburg and appeared before the Coun- 
cil. He asked for five hundred pounds of powder 
to be conveyed to Kentucky, as an immediate sup- 
ply, in view of the fact that the British officers 
north of the Ohio were inciting the Indians to war. 

There was at the time an abundant supply in the 
State, but the Council hesitated about furnishing it 


to Clark, except aa a loan. They were uncertain as 
to what the action of the General Assembly would 
be in reference to Kentucky and Henderson <fe Co.'s 
claim, and they would only consent to furnish the 
powder, if Clark would become answerable for it 
in case the Assembly disapproved of their action. 
They informed Clark that " they could venture no 
farther." An order was handed him upon the 
keeper of the magazine on this condition. This 
Clark returned, with a letter stating, "that it was out 
of his power to convey the stores at his own expense 
such a distance through an enemy's country, that he 
was sorry to find that the Kentuckians would have 
to seek protection elsewhere, which he did not 
doubt of their getting," adding, that " if a country 
was not worth protectiug, it was not worth claim- 
ing." On reading this letter the Council realized 
that they had committed a great mistake, and they 
sent for Clark and granted all he had asked. The 
order on the Journal is in these words, bearing date 
August 23, 1776. 

" Mr. George Rogers Clark having represented to 
this Board the defenceless state of the inhabitants 
of Kentucky, and having on their behalf requested 
that a quantity of ammunition may be supplied 

" itesohed. That five hundred pounds of gunpow- 
der be forthwith sent to Pittsbui^ and delivered to 
the commanding officer at that station, to be safely 
kept and delivered to Mr. Clark for the use of the in- 
habitants of Kentucky. And it is ordered that five 
hundred pounds of gunpowder be delivered the said 
Mr. Clark by the keeper of the publick magazine." ' 


This action secured Kentucky to Virginia. Had 
Clark's request been denied, and had he carried out 
his threat, there is little doubt that he would have 
applied for help to the Spaniards, who held the west 
of the Mississippi They were seeking to establish 
themselves on the east bank of the river, as their 
subsequent conduct demonstrated, and they would, 
without doubt, have seized this opportunity of ac- 
quiring Kentucky. At the fall session Clark and 
Jones appeared before the Legislature, and asked 
that measures be taken for the protection of Ken- 
tucky. At their instance, and against the protest of 
Henderson & Co., the territory embraced in the 
present State of Kentucky was set off from the 
County of Fincastle. It was constituted the County 
of Kentucky, and a regular government was given 
the people. 

The claims of Henderson & Co. were never recog- 
nized by Virginia, but as they had induced many 
settlers to go to Kentucky, who aided in holding 
the country against the Indians, and thus gave pro- 
tection to the other settlements to the east, the Leg- 
islature deemed it right to reimburse the company 
for their trouble and expense, and accordingly 
granted them in October, 1778, two hundred thou- 
sand acres of land at the mouth of Green River. 



OneronB Daties Devohred on the EzeontiYe. — Needs and PeriU of 
the Stata — Oorrespondenoe with Washington. — Qreation of a 
Virginia Navy. — Its Great Services and Heroism. — ^Munitions 
of War Supplied. — ^Troops Famished the Continental Army. — 
Arrangements to Obtain Intelligence from the Armj. — ^Eifect 
of Declaration of Independence in England. —Campaign in 
America. — ^Retreat through New Jersey. — ^Reduced Condition 
of Washington's Army. — Battles of Trenton and Prinoeton. — 
Viiginia Assembly. — Its Important Work. — ^Religions Liberty. 
— ^Alarm at Reyerses at the North. — ^Enlarges Powers of QoYor- 
nor. — ^Alleged Scheme for a Dictatorship. 

In reading the Executive Journal for Governor 
Henry's term, which covers four hundred and twenty- 
four large folio pages for the first year, not includ- 
ing the letters written, one is struck with the vast 
amount of mere routine work devolved upon the 
Council. To the ordinary work of an Executive, 
were added the extraordinary labors consequent 
upon a state of war, and in addition the duties of 
an Auditor's ofiice. By far the greater part of the 
Journal is filled with entities of claims against the 
State for which warrants were ordered to be is- 
sued. Against this unnecessary burden Governor 
Henry sent the following protest to the next Assem- 
bly, but it was not changed until the close of his 

•* Williamsburg, Dee. 6**» 177C. 

" Hon. Sir : As by the act of Government it is 
directed that the Governor with the advice of the 


privy Council shall exercise the executive Powers 
of Government, a Doubt arises whether the Gover- 
nor alone may issue a warrant upon the Treasury 
for the Payment of any money on accounts certified 
by the Commissioners. From experience it is found 
impracticable to attend to many matters of conse- 
quence t-o the safety of the State, if the Council are, 
not only to advise the issuing of Warrants upon 
such Certificates, but also to Keep Records of the 
same. We think it proper to acquaint the General 
Assembly with these our Sentiments; and we beg 
leave earnestly to recommend it to their considera- 
tion, whether it would not be to the advantage of 
the State if the Commissioners were empowered 
finally to transact this Business, or some otner reg- 
ular mode adopted for the futui'e settling &, passing 
the accounts against this State. 

" By advice of Council 

" P. Henry Jb." 

** To the HoK. Bdmukd Pendlbtok, 

** Speaker of the Bo. of Dei'' 

One of the most serious questions with which 
Governor Henry and his Council were confronted, 
was the deficiency in the supply of salt in the State. 
Few things were calculated to excite more alarm, 
or greater dissatisfaction among the people. The 
order of the Convention for the establishment of salt 
works along the coast, could not be carried out in 
time to meet the demand, and the occasional landing 
of a cargo was not sufficient for the purpose. 

There was also a great lack of such medicines as 
were formerly imported. So soon as information 
was received of the departure of the British Fleet 
from the Bay, the CouncU, by an order dated Sep- 
tember 13, 1776, directed six sloops, bearing the 
names of Congress, Scorpion, Liberty, Defiance, Hor- 



net, and Revenge, to carry out cargoes of tobacco ' 
and flour to the West Indies, and to bring back salt, 
clothes, and medicines. This was the beginning of 
a very impoi-tant, but hazardous, trade, which was 
conducted by the Virginia Navy. 

The dangers which sun-onnded Virginia are 
graphically described by John Page, President of 
the Council in the absence of Governor Henry, in a 
letter to John Hancock, President of Congress, 
August 3, 1776.' Congress had ordered two of 
the battalions raised fdi- Virginia service to joia 
the flying camp of Brigadier-General Mercer in 
New Jersey. These were sent, and Mr. Pago 
wrote : 

" From the dispersed situation of our troops, the 
number of navigable rivers, exposing our country to 
the ravages of the enemy's fleet, the great demand 
of men and arms on our frontiers, on account of the 
Indian war, and from the present state of General 
Clinton's army near Charlestown, which we con- 
ceive might be employed to greater advantage here, 
we have reason to apprehend an invasion, and have 
therefore ordered a number of minute-men and mi- 
litia into duty, to supply the want of our two regi- 
ments ordered to the Jerseys." 

This order of the Council, calling additional 
troops into the field, was made while Governor 
Henry was sick and absent. Wlien he returned to 
his post, he wrote to General Washington, Septem- 
ber 20, asking his advice in the embarrassing situa- 
tion of affairs in which he found himself, and pro- 

■ Americui ArobtTei, Oth Serlos, L, 78S. 


posing a continued correspondence. Washington 
replied October 5 : 

" I congratulate you, sir, most cordially, upon your 
appointment to the government, and, with no less sin- 
cerity, on your late recovery. Your correspondence 
will confer honor and satisfaction ; and whenever it 
is in my power, I shaU -write to you with pleasure." 

He then gave an account of his own situation^ 
attributed his reverses to the evils of short enlist- 
ments, warned Governor Henry against relying on 
these, and against inefficient officers, and advised 
the use of row galleys for defence against the ene- 
my's ships and tenders which might go up the rivers.^ 
Williamsburg, which is within a few miles of 
both the James and York Rivers, was peculiarly 
liable to attack from the water, and the Governor 
ordered some of the new levies to be posted for the 
protection of the capital. This caused a sarcastic 
letter to be written by the aged aristocrat, Landon 
Carter, to Washington, which plainly showed his 
dislike to Governor Heniy.' 

In order to give more efficiency to their navy, the 
Convention had created a Navy Board, consisting of 
Thomas Whiting, John Hutchings, Champion 
Travis, Thomas Newton, Jr., and George Webb. 
They were charged with the creation and manage- 
ment of a navy. The Executive Journal shows that 
they were in communication with, and under the 
control of, the Governor. When the great disad- 
vantages under which they labored are considered, 
the work they accomplished is matter of astonish- 

1 Writings of Washington, It., 185. Post, iii., 12. 
' American Archives, 5th Series, ii., 1805-6. 


ment. Dockyai'ds were established at Gosport, Suf- 
folk, Fredericksburg, New Castle on the Pamonky 
Biver, and at a point on the Chickahominy about 
twelve miles from its mouth. This last was the 
chief place of naval construction, till its destruction 
by Arnold in 1781. Depots of naval stores, and 
ropewalks for the manufacture of cordage, were 
also established, the chief of these being at War- 
wick, four miles below Richmond.^ The Board 
appointed two superintendents, Captain James 
Maxwell and Captain Christopher Calvert, the 
latter having immediate charge of the construction 
department Military operations were directed by 
a commodore. Three of these were successively ap- 
pointed, J. Boucher, Walter Brooke, and James 
Barron. The first two served but short periods and 
resigned, but the last named served till the end of 
the war, with an energy, zeal, and courage unsur- 
passed in naval annals. About 40 captains, 59 
lieutenants, and 600 seamen served in the Virginia 
navy during the war, and among the latter were 
many negroes, who rendered faithful and efficient 
service. It is to the lasting honor of this arm of 
the service that only three cases of desertion are 
reported during the entire war. The corps of 
marines numbered about three hundred, including 
officers, but the militia were frequently called to 
serve on the decks of the navy. 

The Virginia navy thus caJled into existence, al- 
most entirely during Governor Henry's terms, con- 
sisted of 17 ships, 15 brigs, 19 schooners, 15 galleys, 
2 armed pilot boats, and 2 barges. Some of these 

* This place was veiy near Fort Darling, known as Droiy's Blaff, and 
rendered famous in the Ute war. 


vessels were captared from the enemy, and some 
bought, but the Virginians showed surprising skill 
in constructing swift and seaworthy craft. Some 
of the vessels were of most respectable size and 
aimament. The largest ship carried 32 guns, the 
largest brig 14 guns, the largest galleys mounted 
two 18-pounder guns, with swivels in addition, and 
the barges for the conveyance of troops were large 
enough to carry one company of 68 men with their 
outfit, besides those working the oars. 

The services of these vessels were of the greatest 
importance. They not only effectually prevented 
the incursions of bands of plundering Tories along 
the Bay, but were most effectual in carrying out to- 
bacco and other produce, and exchanging their 
cargoes in the West Indies for arms and military 
stores, and in making prizes of British merchant- 

Smollet, in his continuation of Hume's History of 
England, bears testimony to the value of these ser- 
vices in their injury to British commerce, and states, 
" that by the export of tobacco from the Chesapeake 
the credit of the colonies was chiefly, if not wholly, 
supported," and " by the inland navigation of that 
Bay large quantities of provisions were conveyed to 
the. middle colonies for the subsistence of the Amer- 
ican army." 

This gallant little navy not only captured un- 
armed merchantmen, but fought with great bravery 
the British armed vessels. A detailed statement of 
these conflicts would be of great interest, but only 
one adventure will be given, which may well chiJ- 
lenge comparison with the highest heroism recorded 
in naval history. The account will be given in the 


fitting words of the accomplished historian of the 
Virginia Navy.^ Says the writer : 

" The crowning act of heroism, during the career 
of these patriot cruisers, was that which has immor- 
talized the name of Cap* John Cowper. The Brig 
Dolphin we have seen had been on service in the 
Chesapeake ; and had been sent into Nansemond 
River to be overhauled and refitted. Her officers 
had been changed ; and she was now to be com- 
manded by Cap* Cowper, with his Lieutenants Phil. 
Chamberlayne and James Cunningham, midshipman 
Frank Lewis, and surgeon Harris. Having gotten 
his vessel ready for sea. Cap* Cowper dropped 
down to the mouth of Nansemond River, and as 
soon as opportunity of wind and tide offered, put 
to sea in search of the enemy. Before weighmg 
anchor, and we must suppose aiter due consultation 
with his officers and crew, he deliberately nailed his 
flag to the masthead, and declared he would never 
stnke it to the foe. The annals of naval warfare do 
not afford a more brilliant example of patriotic de- 
votion than that now to be recorded. The world is 
dazzled by displays of heroism on large fields. 
Hence the glories of St Vincent, of Aboukir, and 
of Trafalgar. But Lord Nelson himself, when he 
sank into the arms of Fame on the deck of the Vic- 
tory, was no more a hero than was he who now 
trod the deck of this unpretending Virginia cruiser. 
Cap* Cowper now shaped the com'se of his brig di- 
rectly across Hampton Roads out into the Chesa- 
peake. It was late in the day. The people of the 
neighborhood, who were well aware of his desperate 
temper, watched with interest from along the shore 

' Dr. William P. Palmer, of Richmond, editor of the first volamM of 
the Calendar of State Papers, who has kindly shown me hia Historj of 
the Virginia Navy in MS , from which I have obtained the foregoing 



tbe gallant little vessel on her perilons way. They 
saw her pass the sandy beach where stood old Fort 
George, and where now frown the batteries of For- 
tress Mnnroe. They continued to gaze upon her 
diminishiog outlines until she had gotten fairly 
beyond the Cape& Here she was not lost to their 
view ; for almost at the moment she was about to 
fade away in the horizon, two other sails were ob- 
served in tbe offing. The friends of all on board 
the Dolphin, were now anxious as to the character 
of the strangers — were they merchantmen, or were 
they men-o:fwar? Gowper had always said be 
would never wait to be attacked, but would assume 
the o:ffensive, no matter what the odds against him. 
The Dolphin was now seen bearing toward the two 
vessels, who themselves at once shaped their course 
to meet her. It was evident therefore that they 
were armed tenders of the enemy's fleet probably 
not very far distant They must have been aston- 
ished at the temerity of an adversan^, who single- 
handed and in sight of a place of refuge, was thus 
boldly inviting them to so unequal a contest. They 
may have taken her for a Tory ally, or friend in dis- 
guise. They were not long left in donbt The 
Dolphin opened fire as soon as they were in range, 
and the action began. It is stated by those who 
looked on from a distance, that the fight lasted un- 
til long after the sun had set. The flashes of the 
guns continued to be seen through the darkness, and 
their distant mutterings to be heard after nightfall. 
At last an ominous silence brooded over the sea. 
The lights of two vessels were seen to disappear to 
the eastward, but no sign was left of the third. 
The gallant Dolphin and her devoted crew have 
never been heard of since that day I Had they 
been made prisoners, some one of them might have 
returned with tidings of her fate. It cannot there- 
fore be doubted that the desperate resolve of her 


commander was carried out, and that he and his 
crew sacrificed themselves and their ve»el to an o^er- 
zealons devotion to their conntrj^s caoae. Xo fit- 
ting memorial can ever mark the spot wlier« per- 
ished this heroic band; bnt the siirg;ing bil^w 
most forever be their mcxiument; their i^mem, 
what the ' wild waves ' are ever saying.^ 

It was the fate of the gallant Virginia navy to be 
almost entirely destroyed in James River by the 
tndtor Arnold, in 1 78 1. Besides those vessels wh ich 
were in distant waters, only the Liberty survived 
the invasion. Those not falling into the hands of 
the English were destroyed by their own com- 
manders to avoid captore. 

The exertions put forth by Governor Henry to 
ensure the manufacture and importation of gun- 
powder met with such success, that on August 30, 
the Council found it necessary to order the erection 
of another maga2dne to accommodate the laige supply 
on hand For lead the State was dependent on the 
mines on the Kanawha, opposite the mouth of Crip- 
ple Creek, in that portion of the old county of Pin- 
castle which had been set off and named Montgom- 
ery, in honor of the hero who, after conquering a 
large portion of Canada, had just fallen at Quebec 
From the mines the lead was wagoned one hun- 
di'ed and thirty miles, to Lynches ^ Ferry on James 
River. A gun factory was established at Fredericks- 
burg, but it failed to supply the demand for small 
arms, and the supplies obtained from the West Indies 
proved insufficient for aiming the men called into 
the field. 

There was no difficulty in raising Virginia's quota 

' Now Lynehlmrf . 


of men for the Continental army during the year 
1776, and when Governor John Wood, of Georgia, 
applied for permission to recruit for soldiers in the 
State, the Council, on August 20, granted his re- 
quest, only providing that the Georgians should not 
enlist any regular soldiers, maiines, or minute-men. 

The gallantry of the Virginians in the engage- 
ments of the Continental army was conspicuous, 
and soon won the admiration of the army. 

In order that he might have prompt and reliable 
information of what was going on in the camp and 
in the halls of Congress, Governor Henry kept up a 
regular correspondence with General Washington 
and Richard Henry Lee. The letters of this cor- 
respondence which have been preserved, show the 
most intimate relations between the writers, and 
give a vivid representation of the events of the 

Governor Henry soon found, however, that the 
engagements of these correspondents were so en- 
grossing, that they could not keep him advised of 
current events with that punctuality which he 
deemed essential to the welfare of the State. Ac- 
cordingly on January 16, 1777, the Council,^ in a 
minute reciting the defenceless condition of the 
State, and the necessity of speedy and authentic ac- 
counts of the movements of the British fleet and 
army, in order that the most effectual provision 
might be made for its defence, appointed John 
Walker, Esq., of Albemarle County, agent of corre- 
spondence, to reside at, or convenient to, General 
Washington's headquarters. Governor Henry in- 
formed General Washington of this action, and re- 

' Journal, p. 80S. 


ceived from him the following letter on the sub- 

^' MoBBiflTowHy 34 Febniaiy 1777. 

"Deab Sir: Mr. Walker has, I doubt not, in- 
formed you of the situation in which I have placed 
him, in order that he may obtain the best informa- 
tion, and, at the same time, have his real design hid 
from the world ; thereby avoiding the evils, which 
might otherwise result from such appointments, if 
adopted by other States. It will naturally occur to 
you, Sir, tnat there are some secrets, on the keeping 
of which depends often times the salvation of an 
army ; secrets which cannot, or at least ought not, 
to be intrusted to paper ; nay, which none but the 
Commander-in-chiei, at the time, should be ac- 
quainted with. 

" If Mr. Walker's commission, therefore, from the 
Commonwealth of Virginia should be known, it 
would, I am persuaded, be followed by others of 
the like nature from other states, whicn would be 
no better than so many marplots. To avoid the 
precedent, then, and from your character of Mr. 
Walker, and the high opinion I myself intertain of 
his abilities, honor and prudence, I have taken him 
into my family as an extra aid-de-camp and shall be 
happy if, in this character, he can answer your ex- 
pectations. I sincerely thank you. Sir, for your kind 
congratulations on the late success of the Continen- 
tal arms (would, to God it m^ continue), and for 
your polite mention of me. Let me earnestly en- 
treat, that the troops raised in Virginia for this 
army be forwarded on by companies, or otherwise, 
without delay, and as well equipped as possible for 
the field, or we shall be in no condition to open the 
campaign. With every sentiment of respect and 
regard " I am, dear Sir, &c. 

" Geo. Washington. 

»* To hii Excellency Gov» Patrick HBiotT." 



Mr. Walker did not continue very long on this 
duty, and during his next term the Governor ap- 
pointed William Pierce to the same position.^ 

The Declaration of Independence greatly affected 
parties in England. Many who had stoutly de- 
fended the political rights of the Colonies aban- 
doned their cause when a separate existence was 
demanded.' Englishmen were nearly unanimous 
against a disruption of the empire, and the minority 
opposed to Government dwindled to almost nothing. 
Still some of the best thinkers did not hesitate to 
declare the task of reducing America hopeless. 
Among these was David Hume, who upon his 
deathbed advised his country to give up the war 
with America, " in which defeat would destroy its 
credit, and success its liberties." 

Upon the continent the temptation to injure their 
old enemy could not be resisted, and both France 
and Spain, while not taking an open part in favor 
of the United States, secretly gave them encourage- 
ment, permitting arms and munitions of war to be 
furnished them, and American ships to use their 
harbors. Vergennes, the ablest member of the cab- 
inet of Louis the Sixteenth, earnestly advised an open 
breach with England, but the sluggish young king 
dreaded the exertions of war, and was content to 
allow his ministers secretly to aid the Americans. 

The fortunes of the American arms had been 
checkered. The expedition into Canada com- 
menced with brilliant success, but after the fall of 

* EzeoatiYe Joamal, 79, 121. 

' On the opening of Parliament in October, the Duke of Biohmond in 
the Lords, and John Wilkes in the Commons, led the opposition in vigor- 
oos attacks upon the Ministry, and in defence of the American Colonies 
in their action ; but they were in a small minority. 


Montgomery before Quebec it came to a disastronB 
teiminatioiL The British army, after its forced 
evacuation of Boston, transferred the seat of war to 
New York and the Southern Colonies. Washington 
had hastened to occupy New York, and Charles 
Lee was despatched to meet the invasion of the 
South. The attack of Clinton on Charleston was 
repulsed and the British returned to New York. 
By the middle of August the forces under General 
Howe reached twenty-four thousand, besides a 
strong fleet, while the effective forces under Wash- 
ington were only about eleven thousand, many of 
whom were militia suddenly called into service. A 
well-planned attack by the British on the Ameri- 
can forces posted at Brooklyn, on August 27, re- 
sulted in a defeat of the Americans after a stub- 
born fight, in which the troops led by Lord Sterling 
were distinguished, and necessitated the evacuation 
of New York. 

Then followed the battle of White Plains, which 
was soon followed by the loss of Fort Washington 
with a large garrison, and the evacuation of Fort Lee, 
thus leaving the lower Hudson open to the enemy's 
fleet. Washington being in doubt as to the designs 
of the British commander, crossed over to the Jersey 
side of the river, leaving General Charles Lee, who 
had returned fi*om the South, in command of about 
half of the army, to check any movement to the east- 
ward. General Howe having massed a greatly su- 
perior force in New Jersey, and sent a lai'ge fleet 
to the southward, it became apparent that he was 
aiming at Philadelphia. Washington at once or- 
dered Lee to cross the river and join him, but this 
eccentric and wayward oflScer disobeyed the order, 


and purposely left his commander to his fate. Then 
commenced a perilous retreat across the State of 
New Jei*8ey, lasting three weeks and measuring 
near one hundred miles, including the crossing of 
four rivei's, in which Washington, with consummate 
skill, evaded a vastly superior force commanded by 
Cornwallis, one of the ablest of the British gener- 
als, and brought off his ammunition and field pieces, 
with the greater part of his stores. When at last, 
on December 8, he had placed the Delaware be- 
tween himself and the enemy, he found his army 
reduced, by sickness and expired enlistments, to but 
little over three thousand men, of whom fifteen 
hundred were Virginians. These were soon re- 
inforced by two thousand Pennsylvania militia. 

Lee after much delay crossed the Hudson, but on 
December 12, while absent from his command, he 
was captured and carried a prisoner to New York. 

A letter written from Philadelphia December 3, by 
Richard Heniy Lee to Governor Henry, an extract of 
which appeared in the Virginia Gazette of the 13th, 
gave him the alarming intelligence of this forced re- 
treat ; it commenced : " The present moment is criti- 
cal in the American war. The enemy have taken 
vigorous advantage of the space between the old 
and the new enlistments, and have rushed like a tor- 
rent through the Jersieg, our little army of no more 
than 5,000 men, under the command of Genl. 
Washington, being compelled to retreat rapidly be- 
fore them. The object is this city, and they were 
on Sunday last at Brunswick, about sixty miles off 
in the Jersies." It was indeed a gloomy period.^ 

1 See letter of Washington to J. A. WMhingUm, Deoember 18, 1770, 
Writings, of Washington iy., 229. 


The enemy were in possession of Rhode Island, 
Long Island, the city of New York, and nearly all 
of New Jersey, and were on the eve of entering 
Pennsylvania and threatening Philadelphia. On 
December 12, Congress, fearing an attack on the 
city, adjourned to meet in Baltimore on the 20tL 
Lord Howe accompanied his brother, with special 
authority from the Ministry to offer pardon to all 
who would take the oath of allegiance. His pro- 
clamation induced many to accept the proffered 
terms, and indeed a general despondency threaten- 
ed to overspread the people and the army. Some 
of the officers under Washington commenced to 
criticise very freely his generalship, and to intrigue 
for his dis^ace. So ce?tein were the BritishXt 
the war was virtually ended, that Comwallis pre- 
pared to return to England, and actually sent his 
baggage on shipboard. 

The difficulties which now beset Washington 
would have overwhelmed an ordinary man, but they 
only served to stimulate his powers, and to bring 
out in bolder relief the greatness of his character. 
He had early urged upon Congress the necessity of 
having a fresh army in the field enlisted for the war, 
before the expii*ation of the terms of his men, who 
were only enlisted for one year. But Congress did 
not heed his repeated advice till September 16, 1776, 
when they ordered that eighty-three battalions 
should be enlisted for the war, of which three were 
assigned to New Hampshire, fifteen to Massachu- 
setts, two to Rhode Island, three to Connecticut, 
four to New York, four to New Jersey, twelve to 
Pennsylvania, one to Delaware, eight to Maryland, 
fifteen to Virginia, nine to North Carolina, six to 


South Carolina, and one to Geot^a On Novem- 
ber 13, 1776, this order was modified so as to per- 
mit the euliatments to be for three years. They 
had already realized the truth of WashiDgton's 
remark in his letter of October 4, that there is a 
material difEerence between voting battalions and 
raising men. The season was late, and such diffi- 
culty was experienced in getting ready the new 
levies, that the most convenient militia had to be 
called out, and so the American commander was 
foi"ced to meet the well-appointed and experienced 
army of General Howe, with men whose terms were 
expiring, oi* who were freshly drafted. The appar- 
ent hopelessness of bis condition is seen in his letter 
to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety of December 
22, 1776, in which he lu^es the necessity of rein- 
forcements from the militia, and says : " In less 
than ten days from this time, my army will be 
i-educed to a few Virginia, and one Maryland regi- 
ment, Colonel Hand's, and the regiments lately 
under Colonel Miles, all veiy thin." But nothing 
shook the firmness of his mind, and with perfect 
self-poaseasion, he went forward in the performance 
of his duty, trusting the issue to the Divine Provi- 
dence in whose keeping were the destinies of 

Neither Virginia nor her Governor lost faith in ' 
Washington in this his hour of sorest trial. 
Governor Henry exerted himself to tbe utmost to 
push forward the troops the State was required to 
furnish, and in every way to uphold the man in 
whom was bound up, as he verily believed, the fate 
of America.' 

■ AiiL«iinui AiohiTM, Sth BeriM, toL liL, p. 1861. 


The Legislature on December 21, urged upon 
Congress ^^ to invest the commander-in-chief of the 
American forces with more ample and extensive 
powers for conducting the operations of the war." 
And, fortunately for the country, Congress on 
December 27, exhibited their continued confidence 
in him, by greatly enlarging his powers. 

But before this was done, Washington had struck 
a blow which completely changed the situation of • 
affairs and demonstrated his genius for war. On 
the night of December 25, he crossed the Dela- 
ware, filled with floating ice, and in the midst of a 
blinding snow-storm he marched nine miles, attack- 
ing and taking by surprise a large body of Hessians 
at Trenton, of whom he made more than one thou- 
sand prisoners. Cornwallis, astonished at this in- 
telligence, hastily left the ship in which he was 
about to embark, and massing the British army in 
New Jersey, determined to force Washington to 
engage in a battle on unequal terms before he could 
recross the Delaware. But Washington completely 
out-generalled him, and withdi*awing at night from 
his front, fell upon his rear at Princeton, delivering 
a heavy blow. Washington then retired to Morris- 
town, where the British commander dared not attack 

On October 7, 1776, the first Assembly under the 
new constitution met at Williamsburg, consisting of 
a Senate elected by the people, and the members of 
the late Convention acting as a House of Delegates. 

The Assembly found Governor Henry at his post, 
but not fully restored to health. He was able, how- 
ever, to attend the meetings of the Council till Oc- 
tober 26, when becoming so unwell that he could 



no longer perform his duties, he sent the Assembly 
a message, which is noted on the House Journal of 
October 30, with the action thereupon, as follows : 

"The speaker laid before the House a letter 
from the Governour, informing him that the low 
state of his health rendered him unable to attend to 
the duties of his office, and that his physicians had 
recommended to him to retire therefi*om into the 
country till he should recover his strength ; which 
being read, 

" Itesolved^ That the Speaker be desired to inform 
the Governour that this House, sincerelv concerned 
that his indisposition should deprive the common- 
wealth of the benefit of his services, approve of his 
proposition to retire from the duties of his office 
until his better health shall enable him to return to 

On the same day the Senate agreed to this resolu- 
tion, and the Journal of the Council does not show 
the presence of the Governor again till November 
18, following. A letter from Edmund Randolph to 
General Washington, dated October 11, 1776, at 
Williamsburg,^ mentions that many of the soldiers 
from the upper counties were made sick by their 
stay at Williamsburg, and it was doubtless the cli- 
mate of lower Virginia which was so seriously af- 
fecting the Governor. 

The act of the Governor shows the great defer- 
ence which he always paid to the legislative branch 
of the Government. 

Soon after the meeting of the Assembly, Benja- 
min Harrison desii'ed to be heard in defence of him- 

> Amon(i^ Washington's papers in State Department, Washington. 


self as to the matters which had caused him to be 
left out of the congressional delegation, hy the late 
Convention. His vindication was complete, and re- 
sulted in his being reelected on October 10, to take 
the place of Mr. Jefferson, who had declined the ap- 
pointment in order that he might be in the Assem- 
bly, and his re-election was coupled with a vote of 
thanks for his past services.' 

Mr. Jefferson preferred to be in the Assembly be- 
cause he desired to take part in the great work of 
adapting the laws of Virginia to her condition as a 
free commonwealth. Upon his motion a committee 
was appointed to make a general revision of the 
laws, and the Assembly chose by ballot Thomas 
Jefferson, Edmund Pendleton, George Wythe, 
George Mason, and Thomas Ludwell Lee, as the re- 
visers. Mr. Lee soon died, and Colonel Mason de- 
clined to act, so that this important work was per- 
formed by Jefferson, Pendleton, and Wythe. 

There were several matters however which pressed 
for immediate attention, and could not well be post- 
poned for a general revision. Among these were 
the establishment of admiralty and cnminal courts, 
the definition of treason, the abolition of entailed 
estates, and the discontinuance of the tax levied for 
the support of the Established Church. The legis- 
lation touching the last two of these was of the 
utmost importance in shaping the destiny of the 

As an aristocracy could not exist except with 
entailed estates, so Mr. Jefferson's short bill, declar- 
ing that estates held in fee taiUe should thenceforth 

1 Edmund Randolph gives an aooonnt of the matter in his letter to 
Washington of October 11, 1776. 


be held in fee simple, effectually destroyed the 
aristocracy which had existed in Virginia, and 
established democracy on its ruins. The liability 
of all kinds of property for debt, added to the 
abolition of entails, effected a revolution in society. 
Men could no longer enjoy property who had the 
capacity neither of acquiring nor of retaining it 
Every man became therefore the architect of his 
own fortunes, or if he received a large inheritance, 
developed the talent of preserving it ; else he sank 
into poverty. 

The action of the late Convention upon the sub- 
ject of religious liberty had aroused a profound 
interest among the people. The clear enunciation 
of the principle in the Bill of Bights had not been 
followed up by appropriate legislation, as we have 
seen, and dissenters were still taxed for the support 
of the Established Church. This they were not will* 
ing to bear longer, and when the Assembly met 
they presented numerous petitions praying reliel 
These petitions were gotten up mainly, if not 
entirely, by the Baptists and Presbyterians, who 
constituted the great bulk of the dissenters. An 
account of what occurred was given April 8, 1777, 
by the Reverend Caleb Wallace, of Charlotte County, 
who represented Hanover Presbjrtery before the 
Assembly, in a letter to a friend, Beverend James 
Caldwell,^ from which the following interesting 
extract is taken : 

" Our Bill of Bights declares that all men are 
equally entitled to the free exercise of religion 
according to the dictates of conscience, etc. Yet in 

1 See Historical Magazine, L, 854. 


8ome subsequent Acts it is manifest that our 
Assembly designed to continue the old Church 
Establishment. This, and some Petitions which 
were circulated through various pai*ts of the Country 
in behalf of dignifiea Episcopacy, g^v-e a general 
alai*m to people of dissenting principles, and the 
common cry was, if this is continuea, what great 
advantage shall we derive from being independent 
of Great Britain? And is it not as bad for our 
Assembly to violate their own Declaration of 
Bights, as for the British Parliament to break our 
Charter ? The Baptists circulated a Counter Peti- 
tion which was signed by above 10,000, chiefly 
Freeholders. Our Transalpian Presbyterians were 
much chagrined with what they understood was like 
to be publickly done, and with what was said and 
done in a more private way against dissentera ; and 
indeed many dissenters in every part of the country 
were unwilling any longer to bear the burden of an 
establishment. These circumstances induced our 
Presbytery to take the lead and prepare a memorial 
on the subject to be presented to our House at the 
session last fall, and as none of the members who 
were older in the ministry and better qualified could 
undertake it, the presbytery appointed me their 
deputy, which obliged me to make the case a popu- 
lar study, which indeed I had done for some tune 
before, and to attend the general Assembly 6 or 8 
weeks. The result was the Assembly passed an act 
exempting dissentera for all time to come, fi'om sup- 
porting the church of England, declaring all penal 
and persecuting laws against any mode of worship, 
etc., null and void, for the present left all denomina- 
tions to support their clergy by voluntary contribu- 
tions, reservmg the consideration of a general assess- 
ment for the support of religion (as they phrase it) 
to a future session. 

" This you may suppose was very pleasing to 


some, and as ungrateful to others, and still there are 
many of a certain church, I would rather say crafts- 
men, who are hoping that something will yet be 
done in favor of the Great Goddess Diana, and 
others are fearing that religious liberty and the 
right of private judgment will be abridged by our 
assembly's taking upon them to interfere in a case 
that lies bevond the limits of civil government. 
Thus has the affair ended, or rather proceeded, 
without producing any other consequences than a 
day or two's debating m the House and a little news- 
paper bickering." 

Mr. Wallace was educated at Princeton, and was 
appointed in 1783 one of the Judges of the Supreme 
Court of Kentucky. 

Mr. Jefferson in his autobiography, written more 
than forty-five years after the session, gave an 
account of what happened which is somewhat 
different. He wrote : 

"The first republican legislature which met in 
1776 was crowded with petitions to abolish this 
spiritual tyranny (the establishment). These 
brought on the severest contests in which I have 
ever been engaged. Our great opponents were Mr. 
Pendleton and Kobert Carter Nicholas ; honest men 
but zealous churchmen. The petitions were refeiTcd 
to the Committee of the whole House on the state 
of the country ; and after desperate contests in that 
Committee, almost daily from 11th October to the 
5 th of December, we prevailed so far only as to 
repeal the laws which rendered criminal the main- 
tenance of any religious opinions, the forbearance 
of repairing to church, or the exercise of any mode 
of worship ; and further, to exempt dissenters 
from contributions to the support of the Established 


Church ; and to suspend, on]y until the next session^ 
levies on the memb^ of that church for the salaries 
of their own incumbents. For although the majo^ 
ity of our citizens were Dissenters, as has been 
observed, a majority of the l^slature were Church- 
men. Among these, however, were some reasonable 
and liberal men, who enabled us, on some points, to 
obtain feeble majorities. But our opponents 
carried, in the general resolutions of the Committee 
of November 19, a declaration that religious assem- 
blies ought to be r^ulated, and that provision 
ought to be made for continuing the succession of 
the clergy, and superintending their conduct. And 
in the bill now passed was inserted an express reser- 
vation of the question, whether a general assessment 
should not be established by law, on every one, to 
the support of the pastor of his choice ; or whether 
all shoiud be left to voluntary contributions." 

The Journal sustains Mr. Wallace when he difEers 
with Mr. Jefferson. It shows that on October 11, 
" a Committee of Religion " was appointed, consist- 
ing of Messrs. Braxton, Harwood, Richard Lee, 
Bland, Simpson, Mayo, Hite, Fleming, James 
Taylor, Watts, Lewis, Adams, Curie, Jefferson, 
Scott, Page, of Spotsylvania, McDowell, and the 
treasurer (Robert Carter Nicholas). 

To this Committee, and not to the Committee of 
the whole House, were referred the several petitions 
touching the Established Church, until November 9, 
when the last one of these petitions was presented. 
Up to that date no report had been made by that 
Committee on the subject. On that day the follow- 
ing entry appeal's : 

"Ordered, that the Committee for Religion be 
discharged £rom proceeding on the petitions of the 



BeTeral religions societies, and the same be referred 
to the Committee of the whole Hoase upon the 
state of the country." 

The Hoase did not afterward resolre itself into 
a Committee of the Whole upon the State of the 
Country, till Saturday, November 16. Coming to no 
conclusioQ upon the matters then before the Com- 
mittee, it sat again on Monday, and again on Tues- 
day. On the last named day the Committee re- 
ported a series of resolutions on the subject, and a 
committee was appointed to prepare a bill in accord- 
ance therewith. This committee reported Novem- 
ber 30, and the bill was discussed in Committee of 
the Whole December 3, and 4. On the 4th, after 
being amended, it was ordered to be engrossed, and 
was passed on the next day. It was further 
amended in the Senate, and finally passed on De- 
cember 9. 

It would seem therefore, that from October 11, to 
November 9, the contests were in the " Committee of 
Religion " of which Mr. Pendleton was not a mem- 
ber, and that there were no prolonged contests after 
the matter was referred to the Committee of the 
Whole House. Indeed, the formidable array of 
freeholders who signed the petitions, and who must 
have been largely members of the Established 
Church, was enough to determine the course of the 
Legislature, and to bring about the result which, 
from Mr. Wallace's account, was easily accom- 
plished. It would seem most probable that the 
real contest was as to the propriety of a general 
assessment for the support of religious teachers, 
and this was left hj the bill "to the discussion 


aud final determination of a future Assembly, when 
tbe opinions of the country in general may be better 

The account of Mr. Wallace is also more in accord ! 
with the statement of Edmund Randolph.' He says : 

" It has been seen that the friends of the Estab- 
lished Church were apprehensive of the force of 
their own principles, to which they bad assented in 
the bill of rights, and how they were quieted by the 
assurances of Mr. Henry. But they were patriotfl 
who dreaded nothing so much as a schism among 
the people, and thought the American principle too 
pure to be adulterated by religious dissension, 
rhey therefore did in truth cast the establishment 
at the feet of Jta enemies." . 

Among the many petitions presented to the 
Assembly on this important subject, the splendid 
memori^ of Hanover Presbytery, which was be- 
lieved to have been dra\VTi, as well as presented, by 
Reverend Caleb Wallace, was by far the ablest 
paper. This, with the memorial of the Presbytery 
against a general assessment, which bears date 
April 25, 1777, left little for Mr. Jefferson to do in 
subsequently drafting the " Bill for Establishing 
Religious Freedom." A comparison of these 
memorials with Mr. Jefferson's famous bill reveals 
the fact, that the Presbyteiy, representing the Pres- 
byterians of the State, had expressed with remark- 
able precision, and forae, the proper relations of 
Church and State, before the great statesman had 
drafted his act defining those relations,' and that 

' Hanuscript Hiatoij of Virgiiiik. 

* See FoDte'a Sketches of Virginia, 333, 836, 846, wbere Ui«M tnomo- 
rikli ft»d JeffenoD'g bill ore Ki^en. 


the act was no advance on the positions taken by 
the Presbytery. Indeed, both the memorials and 
Jefferson's bill are but echoes of the noble plea for 
religious liberty made by Milton, in his *' Treatise of 
Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes," and "Con- 
siderations touching the likeliest means to remove 
Hirelings out of the Church.'' 

The act passed at this session reserved for the use 
of the Episcopal Church the glebe lands of which 
they were in possession, though bought with public 
levies, and this was not opposed by Mr. Jefferson, 
as appears by his reporting a biU to the same effect 
in the revision. 

The Assembly on meeting evidently thought the 
State was in no immediate danger of an invasion by 
the British. The Governor and Council, after con- 
ference with Generals Lewis and Stephen, had called 
out twenty-six companies of Militia, and five com- 
panies of minute men, on September 25, to take 
the place of the three regiments of Continental 
troops ordered to join General Washington in New 
Jersey, but the Assembly on October 12, recom- 
mended that the order be countermanded. On 
November 21, the Governor was informed, by ex- 
press, that upward of one hundred sail of the 
enemy's ships had left New York for the South, 
and the militia from the tide- water portion of the 
State was again called out ; but no attack was then 
made on Virginia by the British fleet, and on Decem- 
ber 7, the cavalry of the State was ordered to join 
General Washington, under a resolution of the 
Assembly. Upon receiving the requisition of Con- 
gress for fifteen regiments to serve during the war, 
the Governor and Council, anticipating difficulty in 



promptly filling the requisition, stopped the recruit- 
ing officers of South Carolina and G-eoi^a from 
raising soldiers in Virginia to meet their Continental 
quotas; but the Assembly subsequently granted 
the liberty, the order in i*eference to the Georgia 
officers being made as late as December 18. On 
the same day the Journal shows the following en- 

^^ Hesolvedj That this House have great pleas- 
ure in observing with what cheerfulness and alacrity 
the volunteers in the county of Frederick have 
offered their service to join the Continental Army 
under his excellency General Washington, at a time 
they supposed important and critical ; but as it is 
proDable that the enemy have retired into winter 
quarters, the House would not wish their brave 
countrymen to march such a distance in this incle* 
ment season under a doubt whether there will be 
occasion for their services, but will rely on and call 
them if such occasion should happen." 

Trusting that the British had gone into winter 
quarters, and perhaps to a report contained in the 
Gazette of December 13, of a victory gained in the 
Jerseys by Washington's army, the Assembly were 
under no alarm as late as December 19. The 
Journal shows no sign of uneasiness up to that date 
in the matters considered by the body. The House 
did not consider the state of the country in Commit- 
tee of the Whole, from the 7th till the 18th of 
December, the only mode of considering matters 
relating to the war. On the 7th the Conmiittee dis- 
cussed and reported on the claims of certain persons 
for damages sustained from the soldiery, and on 


the ISth, the departure from the State of British 
merchants, i-efusing to take the oath of allegiance, 
was discussed and ordered, and no other matter 
seems to have been before the Committee. On the 
19th the House did not sit in committee. On the 
20th the Gazette contained most alarming intelli- 
gence from the Iforth. 

Af t«r stating that no newspapers from Philadel- 
phia came by the last weekly post, owing, it was 
believed, to the printers having fled from the city, it 
went on to say that : " Private letters advise that a 
division of General Howe's army was at Burlington, 
part at Trenton, and that another detachment had 
crossed the Delaware above Trenton, the whole 
comprising a body of between 12 and 15,000 men. 
That General Washington, with only 6,000 men, was 
a few miles distant from Hovre's army, at a place 
called Bristol ; that General Lee was to the north- 
ward, on the flank of the enemy, with about 4,000 
men ; and another body of troops were in Phila- 
delphia throwing up Intrenchments, and putting the 
city in a poature of defence. The General Congress 
were preparing to remove to Baltimore." 

Now for the first time the Journal shows the 
House alive to the situation. On meeting and 
attending to some routine business, including the 
partial execution of an order for the election of 
r^;imental ofllcers, which had been pravioualy flzed 
by joint resolution for that day, the body " Resolved 
that this House will immediately resolve itself into 
a Committee to take into their consideration the 
state of America." 

Not coming to a conclusion on that day, the 
House sat as a Committee of the Whole on the state 



of America on the 21st, and reported the following 
resolutions, which were agreed to. 

^' It being of the utmost importance that the nine 
battalions heretofore raised in this commonwealth, 
and now in Continental Service, should be com- 
pleted, and the six new battalions for the same 
service, as well as the three battalions on the pay of 
this commonwealth, raised with all probable expedi- 

^^ Hesolvedj That it is earnestly recommended to 
the justices, the members of the county conmiittees, 
the militia officers, and the other good people of 
this commonwealth, to use their best enaeavors to 
forward and encourage the recruiting service, upon 
which the safety and happiness of their country 
depends ; 

" And whereas the present imminent danger of 
America ; and the ruin and misery which thi'eatens 
the good people of this Commonwealth, and their 
posterity, calls for the utmost exertion of our 
strength, and it is become necessarv for the pi-eser- 
vation of the state that the usual forms of govern- 
ment should be suspended during a limited time, 
for the more speedy execution of the most vigorous 
and effectual measures to repel the invasion of the 


" Icesolved, therefore, That the Govemour be, and 
he is hereby fully authorised and empowered, by 
and with the aavice and consent oi the Privy 
Council, from hence forward, until ten days next 
after the first meeting of the General Assembly, to 
carry into execution such requisitions as may be 
made to this Commonwealth by the American Con- 
gress for the purpose of encountering or repelling 
the enemy, to order the three battalions on tne pay 
of this commonwealth to march, if necessary, to 
join the Continental army, or to the assistance of 


any of our Sister States, to call forth any and such 
military force as they shall judge requisite, either by 
embodying and arraying companies or regiments of 
volunteers, or by raising additional batl^lions, ap- 
pointing and commissioning the proper officers, and 
to direct their operations witMn this Common- 
wealth, under the command of the continental 
generals, or other officers according to their respec- 
tive ranks, or order them to march to join and act 
in concert with the continental army, or the troops 
of any of the United' American States, and to pro- 
vide for their pay, supply of provisions, arms, and 
other necessaries, at the charge of this Common- 
wealth, by drawing on the treasurer for the money 
which may be necessary from time to time; and 
the said treasurer is authorized to pay such warrants 
out of any publick money which may be in his hands, 
and the General Assembly will at their next session 
make ample provision for any deficiency which may 
happen. But that this departure from the constitu- 
tion of government, being in this instance founded 
only on the most evident and urgent necessity, 
ought not hereafter to be drawn into precedent. 

" Hesolvedj also^ That the Govemour be desired 
to transmit by express copies of these resolves to 
the American Congress, and to the neighboring 
States of Maryland and North Carolina, to satisfy 
them that we are exerting ourselves in defending 
the liberties of America. 

^^ Resolved, That our Delegates be instructed to 
recommend to the consideration of Congress 
whether it mav not be necessary and expedient in 
the present dangerous and critical situation of 
America, in order to give vigour, expedition, and 
secrecy to our military measures, to invest the com- 
mander-in-chief of the American forces with more 
ample and extensive powers for conducting the 
operations of the war ; and that they will earnestly 


exhort the different Legislatures of the United 
American States to adopt the* most speedy and 
effectual methods for calling their military force 
into action, and co-operating with the generals of 
the American armies. 

These resolutions were sent inmiediately to the 
Senate, and were returned the same day with an 
amendment by which the words, ^^ the usual forms 
of government should be suspended," were omitted, 
and the words, "additional powers be given the 
Governour and Council," were substituted in their 
stead. This was at once agreed to, and then the 
House adjourned, "until the last Thursday in 
March next, then to meet in the city of Williams* 
burg, or at such other place as the Governour and 
Council, for good reasons, may appoint," thus pro- 
viding for the contingency of an invasion of the 

In transmitting a copy of these resolutions to the 
executive of North Carolina, Governor Henry gave 
expression to the generous and patriotic feelings 
of Virginia in the following letter. 

" W«»BURGH, Dwf 38'*, 1776. 

" Sir : By the inclosed you will perceive the Ideas 
of this Commonwealth on the subject of military 
things. We mean to act with vigour and upon a 
liberal plan. If your State shall be distressed, ours 
will gladly contribute to its Relief if possibla 
Our Interests are the same and our operations shall 

" No news on which I can depend has come here 
lately from the North. I judge that Philadelphia 
is now or shortly will be at the Mercy of the 
Enemy. The Middle States have not furnished 


Troops in so great numbers as were expected. I 
trust your Commonwealtli and ours will exhibit a 
different spirit. And altho' many Dijfficultys are 
to be encountered on the subject of necessarys, 
yet I hope we may muster a formidable Force oy 
the Spring. For this purpose I think the earliest 
preparations should be made ; and in conformity we 
are setting about this work immediately. 
I have the honor to be Sir, 

" yr. mo. hble. Servt 

« P. Henry Jr." 

(Addressed to) 
The Honble. Cornblitts Harnbtt, Esq. 

Prendent of the O&mmittee cf Safety^ 
North Carodna. 

It was to the closing hours of this Assembly that 
Mr. Jefferson referred in his " Notes on Virginia," 
when he said : 

*' In December 1776, our circumstances being 
much distressed, it was proposed, in the House of 
Delegates, to create a Dictator, invested with every 
power, legislative, executive and judiciary, civil and 

military, of life and of death, over our persons and 
over our properties." 

Girardin, in his continuation of Burkes " History of 
Virginia," writing under Mr. Jefferson's eye,* repeats 
the statement, and says, that, " several of its mem- 
bers proposed and advocated the measure." He 
adds, " It appears from concurring reports, that this 
dictatorial scheme produced in the Legislature 
unusual heat and violence. The members who 
favored, and those who opposed it, walked the 
streets on different sides." 

* See Jeffeiaon's Memoir. 


Mr. Wirt, who was in constant communication 
with Mr. Jefferson while he wrote his sketch of 
Governor Henry, and who obtained Mr. Jefferson's 
corrections and approval of the manuscript before 
its publication,^ also repeats the statement, and 
adds: ''That Mr. Henry was thought of for this 
office has been alleged, and is highly probable; 
but that the project was suggested by him, or even 
received his countenance, I have met with no one 
who will venture to affirm. There is a tradition 
that Colonel Archibald Gary, the speaker of the 
Senate, was principally instrumental in crushing this 
project; that meeting Colonel Syme, the step- 
brother of Colonel Henry, in the lobby of the 
House, he accosted him very fiercely in terms like 
these : * I am told your brother wishes to be dictator ; 
tell him from me, that the day of his appointment 
shall be the day of his death — ^for he shall feel my 
dagger in his heart before the sunset of that day ; ' 
and the tradition adds, that Colonel Syme, in great 
agitation, declared, that if such a project existed, 
his brother had no hand in it, for that nothing 
could be more foreign to him, than to countenance 
any office which could endanger in the most distant 
manner the liberties of his country.' The intre- 
pidity and violence of Colonel Cary's character 
rendered the tradition probable, but it furnishes no 
proof of Mr. Henry's implication in the scheme. It 
is most certain, that both himself and his friends 
have firmly and uniformly persisted in asserting his 

These several accounts seem to have been the 
source of all that has been written about this 

» Kennedy's Life of Wirt, i., 407-417. 


incident, and if not directly traceable to Mr. Jeffer- 
son, certainly they have his approval. The same 
authority which connects Governor Henry's name 
with the scheme, relieves him of all implication in 
it, and his innocence is further shown by the fact of 
his re-election, without opposition, as Governor a 
few months afterward. 

But the Journal of the Assembly, taken in connec- 
tion with the history of the times, makes it apparent 
that the matter has been greatly misrepresented. 
Washington's retreat through the Jerseys ended on 
December 8, but owing to the poor arrangements 
existing for the transmission of intelligence, it seems 
that the Virginia Assembly did not realize the 
danger which threatened the State until December 
20. Their Jomnal shows this very plainly. They 
were then on the eve of adjournment, and the dis- 
cussion as to what had best be done was confined to 
that day and the next The result reached was 
an increase of the powera of the Governor and 
Council, to enable them to prepare for the defence 
of the state, and a recommendation to Congress to 
enlarge the powers of General Washington. The 
short time consumed in this discussion precludes the 
idea of unusual heat and violence, and of the forma- 
tion of parties so bitter toward each other as to 
walk the streets on different sides, as related by 
Girardin ; nor would this be likely where so great 
disparity existed in numbers as is given by this 
writer, who describes the advocates of the scheme as 
"several members.^' It must be remembered too 
that Mr. Jefferson, the only contemporary who has 
considered the matter of sufficient importance to be 
recorded, was not present, having left his seat on 



December 5.^ It is very probable that the matter 
was not seriously contemplated, and was but the 
expression of some alarmed member, which met 
with no encouragement from firmer minds, or it may 
be that the whole story arose from some sneering 
remark of Colonel Gary. It is evident that in the 
minds of those who have repeated the charge, the 
term " Dictator '' has been used to mean one who 
exercises extraordinary powers, rather than one who 
is vested with absolute powers. It was in such a 
sense that the word was applied to Washington in 
the debates in the Virginia convention of 1788, 
when reference was made to his extraordinary 
powers. The powers of Congress existing over 
Vii'ginia, as well as those of the Assembly, and 
the Continental Army under Washington being the 
safeguard of the continent, it would have been the 
dream of a madman indeed, to have constituted one 
man a dictator for Virginia, unless that man was 
the General commanding the Continental Army. 
That the Assembly realized the superiority of 
General Washington's position is manifest in the 
resolutions they adopted asking that his powers be 
increased, and these set at rest the tradition as to 
Governor Heniy. 

The extraordinaiy powers actually vested in 
Governor Heniy and his Council were not as great 
as those vested subsequently in the executive, while 
Mr. Jefferson was Governor,* but Governor Henry 
was the more fortunate of the two in exercising them 
to the satisfaction of the public. It is evident that 
the Assembly in both instances deemed their ac- 
tion extra-constitutional, and only justified by the 

* Randall's Jefferson, L, 205. ' Hening^s Statutes at Large, x., 309. 


emergencies of the war ; and as Mr, Jefferson him- 
self exercised these extra-constitutional powers, he 
might very properly have omitted the severe strict- 
ures he has left, in his " Notes on Virginia," upon 
those who, upon his own statement, advocated a 
departure from the Constitution only greater in 
degree. Besides, the extraordinary powers vested by 
these resolutions, which seem so necessary under the 
circumstances that they should not excite comment, 
the Executive had been vested by the Convention of 
May 1776, with all the powers previously given to 
the Committee of Safety, and these were continued 
by acts passed at subsequent sessions. 



Re-enlistment of Virginia Troops. — DifficnltieB Besetting the Execa- 
tive.— Efforts of Governor Henry to Fill np Virginia's Quota of 
Troops. — Correspondence with Lee and Washington. — ^A Draft 
Ordered. — ^Indian Hostilities. — British Subjects Sent Out ol 
Virginia. — Meeting of Assembly. — Gonfidential Letter of Wash- 
ington to the Governor. — ^Acts of the Assembly. — TJnanimons 
Re-election of Patrick Henry as Governor. — Attack npon Rich- 
ard Henry Lee in the Assembly. — ^His Triumphant Vindication. 
— Governor Henry Visits his Home, and Arranges for his Sec- 
ond Marriage. 

The extraordinary powers vested in Governor 
Henry and the Council were needed in the execution 
of the all-important duty of making up the Con- 
tinental contingent of troops, and those needed for 
State defence. The Governor had seen the danger 
which would beset the cause when the term of the 
first enlistments expired, and the enthusiasm with 
which the people had first rushed to arms would be 
cooled by the hardships and privations of war. As 
eai'ly as July 27, 1776, the Council, in consideration 
of the fact that the terras of the First and Second 
Regiments would soon expire, recommended to 
their commanding officers to take steps at once to 
re-enlist the men for three years, and fill up any 
vacancies by other recruits. It was with the high- 
est gratification that the Governor leai*ned, a few 
days afterward, that the soldiers of the First 
Regiment, which had been his special command, 


had determined to re-enlist, and desired to be sent 
to General Washington's army. On August 5, the 
Council noted these facts, and gave permission to fill 
some vacancies in the ranks out of the minute men 
in service. The patriotic example thus set was 
followed in the other regiments with more or less 
unanimity. But in addition to filling up the ranks 
of the nine regiments in Continental service, six new 
regiments were to be raised to complete the quota 
required by Congress. Every nerve was now 
strained to accomplish this, but for fear the State 
might be invaded, the Governor and Council deemed 
it best to call for volunteers in addition. On 
December 26, 1776, the Governor issued his pro- 
clamation calling for volunteers " willing to engage 
in the defence of this State, or march to the assist- 
ance of any other, should the exigency of things 
demand it." ^ Finding afterward that this inter- 
fered with the enlistment of the regular troops, the 
Council on February 19, following, directed another 
proclamation to be issued countermanding the volun- 
teer enlistments, and urging the completion of the 
battalions required by Congress.* 

A graphic picture is drawn of the condition of 
affairs in Virginia at the beginning of 1777 in the 
following letter to Richard Henry Lee. 

*' WiLLiAMSBUBOH, V% Januaij 9, 1777. 

"I congratulate you my dear Sir on our well 
timed success at Trenton. I trust the honor of our 
arms will be retrieved. 

" Our levies go on pretty well in many places ; in 

1 American Archives, Series 6, vol. iii, p. 1426. 

> This appeared in the Gazette of Febmazy 21, 1777. 


some the great want of necessary clothing & 
blankets, retards them. Orders issue this day for 
the oflScers to hold themselves & soldiers ready to 
march by companies & parts of companies, &. in 
a little time they'll go off, but in want of every 

" I observe our people (a few excepted) are firm 
& not to be shaken. A great number of volun- 
teers may be had. I hope all the enlistments may 
be filled, but doubt if it can soon be done. I am 
endeavonng at vigorus measures. Languor seems to 
have been diffused thro' the Naval department. 
However I hope it will mend. The Cherokees are 
humbled, but I fear hostility about Pittsburg in the 
spring, «fe have pro^-ided ammunition and provis- 
ions m that quarter, &, shall be able to muster a 
formidable militia thereabouts. The powder is not 
yet sent, but I wait only for the result of a council 
of war whei-e to deposit it. Our sea coasts are 
defenceless almost. Arms & woolens are wanted 
here most extremely. We are making efforts to 
secure them. I do indeed pity your situation. I 
guess at the many perplexities & difficulties that 
attend you. I know now much the vigorous counsels 
of America are indebted to you for their support. 
I know how much yoa detest the spirit of indeci- 
sion and lukewarmness that has exposed our country 
to so much peril. Let me tell you that altho* your 
fatigue is almost too much to bear, yet you must 
hold out a little longer. Many people pretend they 
perceive errors in Congress, & some wicked ones 
are greatly pleased at the hopes of seeing the respect 
due to that assembly succeeded by contempt 

" Make my most affe. compliments to Col. Frank.' 
Has he forgot me? Indeed he may ask me the 
same. Telf him that from morning till night I 
have not a minute from business. I wish it may 

' Colonel FnmciB Llglitfoot Le«. 


all do, for there are a thousand things to mend, to 

"Adieu my dear Sir, & believe me your 
affectionate, humble servant, " P H 

" To BiCHABD Henbt Leb, Esq., at Congreu. 

"P.S. I beg you'll tell me what is the best 
method for doing justice to Gen. Stephen as to his 
rank. I think iie ought to be raised above his 
present rank." 

The expectation of filling up the new regiments 
speedily, was doomed to disappointment. Men 
hesitated to enlist for a long or for an indefinite 
period, to be engaged in distant operations, when 
their own families were left unprotected, as was the 
case more especially along the western frontier and 
on the sea coast, the one being liable to attack from 
the British fleet, and the other from the savages. 
At first Governor Henry, who exerted himself to 
the utmost to meet the requisition promptly, blamed 
the Continental recruiting officers. In writing the 
following letter to Richard Henry Lee, he disclosed 
some of the difficulties which surrounded him. 

** W^BURQH, March 20, 1777. 

"Dear Sib: Every possible method has been 
taken to hasten the march of the new Levys. I am 
sorry to observe a remissness among the officers, 
over whom the executive of this country can exer- 
cise no command in the opinion of most people. In- 
deed they have a general want of necessarys to 
struggle with. But they do not in general exert 
themselves as they ought. I've sent express twice 
to each colonel, & besides have had public ad- 
vertisements repeatedly in the papers. All won't 
do. They are remiss, I guess two-thirds of the 


continental Recruits are enlisted, but in broken 
Quotas. Our three Battalions are more than half 
full. The inlistments for Georgia (agt. my opinion 
pennitted by the assembly) have greatly hurt ours. 
A fellow called the ' Dragging Canoe,' has seceded 
from the nation of Cherokees & 400 Warriors 
Lave followed his fortune, lying in the Woods & 
making War on us notwithstanding the peace made 
with Col. Christian. We have a Treaty on foot 
still with that people. Orders were issued a few 
days since for destroying Pluggy's Town. Three 
hundred Militia are ordered on that service from the 
Neighbourhood of Fort Pitt. Five swift sailing 
Boats are gone for arms to the West Indies. Our 
Factoiys are making some. Perhaps we may arm 
our own Troojjs &, some others, especially if the 
importation succeeds. A French ship & 2 Brigga 
are lately arrived here. 'Tis said they've warlike 
stores. If so my next will tell, as I've sent to 
purchase them — I hear to-day the people on the 
Eastern Shore are veiy uneasy, and that from the 
great number of disaffected in Maryland and Dela- 
ware the Whigs of Vii^nia are inclined to move 
away their Familys. I suppose the number is small 
and those of the ncher sort. The poor can't remove. 
The affairs of that shore puzzle rae. Pray advise me 
what it is best to do. Wnat can be the reason of no 
mails from the North ? Adieu my dear friend. May 
your powerful assistance be never wanted when the 
best Interests of America are in Danger. May the 
subterfuges of Toryism be continually exposed and 
counteracted by that zeal and ability you have so 
long displayed, to the peculiar Honor of your native 
country, & the advantage of all the United States. 
" I am, 

" Yr. ever aff'". 

" P. Henry Je, 

" To BiCBARD Hekrt Leb, at the C&ngrtii," 


Eight days afterward the Governor wrote to his 
friend in Congress, complaining of another difficulty 
which had arisen and threatened to thwart his 
purposes. The great depreciation of the paper 
money which constituted the currency, had enabled 
men, whose avarice exceeded their patriotism, to 
engross the articles needed for the army, the scarcity 
of which had so retarded enlistments. In order 
that a stop might be put to this, the Governor wrote 
the following letter : 

" WiLLiAMSBUBO, Maioh 28**», 17T7. 

' " Deab Sir : The practise of engrossing all foreign 
joods & Country produce has gotten to an enormity 
lere, particularly in the latter articles. Corn flour 
and meat are bought up^ (as I was informed by Col. 
Aylett) in so much that it is almost impossible to fur- 
nish the public demands, in such time as the neces- 
sitys of tne army require. A gentleman here in part- 
nership with Mr. Morris, has speculated very largely 
in such articles as the army wants. The public agent 
complains he is anticipated. I hope the practise will 
be effectually stopped, or fatal consequences must 
ensue. I wnte to the General that our enlistments 
go on badly, Indeed they are almost stopped. The 
Georgia Service has hurt it much. The terrors of the 
smallpox, added to the lies of deserters and the want 
of necessary s, are fatal objections to the continental 
Service, rerhaps two- thirds of the six new Battal- 
ions are enlisted, but in broken quotas scattered far 
and wide, they move slowly. How long will you 
sit at Philadelphia? I fear you will come away 
again before the campaign is long begun. I heartily 
pray for your prosperity and welfare, and as the 
messenger waits I must conclude this scrawl from 

" Yr. aff S friend, " P. Hbnby Jb. 

" Can you tell us nothing from France ? 

** To KiCHARD Henbt Lee, ai OcngreuJ** 


On the next day the following letter was written 
to General Washington, setting out more in detail 
the causes of failure in raising Virginia's full quota 
of Continental troops, and suggesting a resort to 
short enlistments to make up the deficiency. 

** WlLLiAMSBUBO, 29 Mozoh, 1777. 

" Sib : I am very sorry to inform you, that.the re- 
cruiting business of late goes on so badly, that there 
remains but little prospect of filling the six new bat- 
talions from this State, voted by the Assembly. 
The boaAi of Council see this with great concern, 
and, after much reflection on the subject, are of the 
opinion that the deficiency in our regulars can no 
way be supplied so properly as by enlisting volun- 
teers. There is reason to believe a considerable 
number of these may be got to serve six or eight 
months. But, as you were pleased to signify to me 
that great inconveniences had arisen bv the admis- 
sion of transient troops at the camp, the board do 
not choose to adopt tne scheme of volunteei's, until 
we are favored with your sentiments on the subject. 
I believe you can receive no assistance by drafts 
from the militia. From the battalions of the Com- 
monwealth none can be drawn as yet, because they 
are not half full. 

" The volunteers will consist of men chiefly from 
the upper parts of the country, who would make 
the best of soldiers could they continue so long in 
the service as to be regularly disciplined. They 
will find their own arms, clothes, and blankets, and 
be commanded by captains and subalterns of their 
own choosing ; the field-officers to be chosen by the 
others. They will be subject to the Continental 
Articles of W ar, and I believe will be as respectable 
as such a corps can be expected, without training. 
I cannot speak with any certainty as to their num- 


bers. In a very little time, seven companies were 
made up in Augusta. In the other counties no 
great progress was made, because Government 
stopped it, on being informed that it was a pre- 
judice to the regular enlistment. But on the fail- 
ure of this, the other may be revived, I believe, 
with success. Virginia will find some apology with 
you for this deficiency in her quota of regulars, when 
the difficulties lately thrown in our way are con- 
sidered. The Georgians and Carolinians have 
enlisted probably two battalions at least. A regi- 
meat of artillery is in great forwardness. Besifes 
these. Colonels Baylor and Grayson are collecting 
regiments, and three others are forming for this 
State. Add to all this our Indian wars and marine 
service, almost total want of necessaries, the false 
accounts of deserters, many of whom lurk here, the 
terrors of the smallpox, and the many deaths 
occasioned by it, and the deficient enlistments are 
accounted for in the best manner I can. 

" As no time can be spared, I wish to be honored 
with your answer as soon as possible, in order to 
promote the volunteer scheme, if it meets your ap- 
probation. I should be glad of any improvements 
on it that may occur to you. I believe about four 
of the six battalions may be enlisted, but have seen 
no regular return of their state. Their scattered 
situation, and being many of them in broken quotas, 
is a reason for tneir slow movements. I have 
issued repeated orders for their march long since. 
With sentiments of the highest esteem and regard, 
I have the honor to be. Sir, 

" Your most obedient and very humble servant, 

" Patrick Henby, Jr. 

** To His Exoellenoy Gbnl. Geo. Washington." 

General Washington replied on April 13, 1777,^ 
commencing his letter as follows : 

'Post, vol. m.,60. 


" It gives me much concern to hear that the re- 
cruiting service proceeds so slowly in most of the 
states. That it is the case in Vir^nia affects me in 
a peculiar manner. I feel myseli much obliged by 
the polite respect your Honorable Board of Council 
are pleased to show to my opinion, and am under 
the necessity of observing that the volunteer plan, 
which you mentioned wul never answer any valu- 
able purposes, and that I cannot but disapprove the 

' He then proceeded to state in detail his objections 
to the plan, and it was at once abandoued. 

It appears by this reply that the recruiting service 
had proceeded slowly in most of the States, and 
Virginia was not alone in failing to make up 
promptly her quota of Continental troops. Her 
excuse as stated by her Governor, relieves her of the 
charge of indisposition to fight for the liberties she 
claimed, and we shall see that the enemy recognized 
her to be, as she undoubtedly was, one of the great- 
est sources of supply of the fighting men of the war. 

When the Assembly met in May, 1777, Governor 
Henry recommended, and the body enacted, a law 
directing a draft to be made to complete the six 
additioual regiments called for, in case they were 
not filled by August 1.* This enabled the Gover- 
nor to complete the regiments required. 

The order to destroy Pluggy's Town, an Indian 
village beyond the Ohio, was caused by the con- 
tinuous hostilities of its inhabitants, which induced 
Congress to refer to the Virginia Executive the 
question of making war upon them. On March 12, 
1777, the Council entered a minute on the subject, 

> Hening's Statatea at Large, ix., 275. 


which contained an order for the expedition after a 
conference with the chiefs of the Delawares and 
Shawnese, through whose country the expedition 
would pass, in case these friendly tribes made no 
objection. The order was sent to George Morgan, 
superintendent of Indian affairs, and to Colonel 
John Neville, or in case of his absence to Colonel 
Robert Campbell, at Pittsburg, and was enclosed 
with a letter from the Governor dated March 12, 
1777, which shows great caution and humanity, and 
at the same time a determination to put a stop to 
the Indian depredations. This communication was 
answered by Messrs. Morgan and Neville in a letter 
of April 1,^ which represented the danger of stirring 
up a general Indian war by such an expedition, in 
such strong terms as caused the abandonment of the 
enterprise. They advised measures for pacifying, 
instead of punishing the Indians, until the British 
were driven out who were inciting hostilities through 
their emissaries. 

The Assembly by resolution ^ had requested the 
Executive to cause the departure from the com- 
monwealth of all British subjects who manifested 

hostility to the American cause. These consisted 
almost entirely of merchants who represented Brit- 
ish houses. The Executive was directed to furnish 
them their passage in vessels in the employment of 
the State, when they were unable to procure other 
means of departure. To enable the Executive to 
execute properly this delicate trust, the justices of 
the county courts were required to make inquiry 
for all such subjects in their respective counties, to 
cause their names to be entered upon record and to 

1 Post, Tol. Ui., 46 and 54. ' Journal, p. 189. 


be transmitted to the Governor, The execution of 
this resolution required the greatest fiimness as well 
as discretion, and the Governor was not able fully 
to comply with it before the latter part of May, 
1777, when we find him sending a flag to the Brit- 
ish officer commanding the Albion, with the request 
that the remnant of these exiles be permitted to 
embark in his ship.^ 

Although there was no attack on Virginia from 
the sea, during the first term of Governor Henry, 
there were frequent reports of movements of the 
British Navy which caused apprehension, the more 
serious because, from the great extent of the water 
front, it was impossible to guard the coast so as to 
prevent a landing. These apprehensions caused the 
Executive to keep up a considerable marine force, 
and to keep the militia in the adjoining counties in 
readiness to obey any sudden call. 

On May 5, 1777, the Assembly met at Williams- 
burg with Mr. Jefferson among its members, and 
the leader of the body, as plainly appears by the 
Journal. On his nomination George Wythe was 
elected Speaker over Robert Carter Nicholas and 
Benjamin Harrison, and before the 20th of the 
month, when he was called away by the sickness of 
his wife, he had introduced much of the important 
business of the session. 

General Washington in view of the meeting wrote 
to Governor Henry, on May 17, a long and con- 
fidential letter in the interest of the army.' This 
was transmitted to the House with one of the 
several messages sent in by the Governor which had 
so much influence in shaping the action of the body. 

> Executive Joornal, 424. ' See poet, yoL iii, 70. 


Among the most important laws of this session may 
be cited ^ the acts for regulating the militia, for 
completing the State's quota of Continental troops, 
for requiring all males above sixteen to take the 
oath of allegiance, for establishing loan offices for 
the use of the United States and of the State, 
for providing against invasions and insurrections, 
for the support of the credit of the paper money 
issued by Congress and by the State, for the en- 
couragement of the manufacture of iron and salt, 
for further suspending the tax for the clergy, and 
for removing the public records to Eichmond, as a 
place of greater safety. 

It will be remembered that the Assembly at its 
previous session postponed the question of an 
assessment for the support of religion, and invited 
an expression of the wishes of the people on the 
subject. The Journal only shows three responses to 
this invitation. Two from sundry inhabitants of 
Cumberland* and Mecklenburg Counties,^ were 
favorable to an established church. The third was 
from the Presbytery of Hanover^ against any 
assessment for the support of religion. 

On May 29, the body proceeded to elect a 
Governor for the second tenn. So completely had 
Mr. Henry filled public expectation that all opposi- 
tion to him had vanished. No one was put in 
nomination against him, and he was appointed 
Governor for the year commencing with the end of 
the session, by joint resolution without ballot.^ 

A committee, with Mr. Richard Lee as chairman, 
were directed to notify him of his appointment, and 

' Hening's Statutes at Large, ix., 287, eto. ' Journal, 86. 

' Journal, 48. * Journal, 72. * Journal, 49. 


they reported June 5, through Mr. Lee, the follow- 
ing happily expressed reply : 

"Gentlemen: The signal honour conferred on 
me by the General Assembly in their choice of me 
to be Governor of this commonwealth, demands my 
best acknowledgments, which I beg the favour of 
you to convey to them in the most acceptable 

" I shall execute the duties of that high station, 
to which I am again called by the favor of my 
fellow-citizens, according to the best of my abilities, 
and I shall rely upon the candour and wisdom of 
the Assembly, to excuse and supply my defects. 
The good of the commonwealth shall be the onlv 
object of my pursuits, and I shall measure my happi- 
ness according to the success which shall attend my 
endeavours to establish the public liberty. I beg to 
be presented to the Assembly ; and that they and 
you will be assured, that I am with every sentiment 
of the highest regard, their and your most obedient 
and humble servant, 

« P. Henby." 

This action of the Assembly completely puts to 
rest the insinuation made after his death, that 
Governor Henry had aspired to dictatorial powers, 
which were "only disclaimed under a threat of 
assassination." The men who composed the As- 
sembly of December, 1776, largely composed that of 
May, 1777, and Colonel Gary, who is said to have 
uttered the threat, was still the President of the 
Senate. Had Mr. Henry been even suspected of 
aspiring to absolute power, he would not have been 
re-elected without opposition. It must be remem- 
bered too that Mr. Jefferson, who afterward so 



bitterly denounced the alleged scheme, was in this 
body, a leading member, and though not present at 
the election, he would not have been so unfaithful 
as not to have organized opposition to this would-be 
tyrant, before he left his seat So far from this we 
shall find him the next year, if not renominating 
Mr. Henry, yet taking an active part in his re- 

There occurred at this session an incident which 
gave the Governor the deepest pain, as it seemed 
for the moment to place a stigma upon the fair 
name of one of his most intimate friends, and one 
of the purest patriots of the Revolution. 

The great talents and effective labors of Richard 
Henry Lee in the cause of America had not only 
excited the enmity of the Tories, but had aroused 
the jealousy of some of the less gifted patriots. 
Hearing that his name had been mentioned in the 
House with some discredit, he wrote from Philadel- 
phia, November 3, 1776, to Mr. Jefferson, a letter 
which contained the following paragraph : ^ "I 
have been informed that very malignant and very 
scandalous hints and innuendoes concerning me have 
been uttered in the House. From the justice of the 
House I should expect they would not suffer the 
character of an absent person to be reviled by any 
slanderous tongue whatever. When I am present I 
shall be perfectly satisfied with the justice I am 
able to do myself. From your candor, sir, and 
knowledge of my political movements, I hope such 
misstatings as may happen in your presence will be 
rectified." Unfortunately for Colonel Lee his 
reliance was misplaced. On May 12, 1777, in view 

> Campbell's History of Virginia, 682. Girardin, Appendix 17. 


of the approaching election of delegates to Congress, 
Mr. Jefferson introduced a bill " for regulating the 
appointment of delegates to General Congress," 
which with some amendments, not affecting its 
principles/ passed both Houses, and was designed 
to defeat the re-election of Colonel Lee, It declared 
a delegate who had served three years continuously 
to be ineligible till after the lapse of one year.* 
This applied solely to Colonel Lee, no one else hav- 
ing served the State three successive years in Con- 
gress. The injurious rumors circulated about the 
absent patriot caused the Assembly to take this 
method to get rid of him without seeming to defeat 
him. But when the election was had. May 22, his 
fiiends required the body to vote against him, by 
putting his name in nomination for each of the five 
places in the delegation. The sickness of General 
Nelson, and the presence of Mr. Wythe in the 
Assembly, had left an unusual amount of work 
upon Colonel Lee and detained him in Philadel- 
phia. On hearing of his defeat he sat down at 
once and wrote a letter to Governor Henry, dated 
May 26, 1777, which contains a full vindication of 

This letter discloses the fact that already there 
had sprung up those interstate jealousies which have 
proved so baneful to the welfare of the United States. 
Not content, however, to rest under the injustice 
done him in his absence. Colonel Lee obtained leave 
of absence from Congress on June 5, and repaired 
to Williamsburg, where he took his seat in the As- 

* Randairs Life of Jefferson, i., 209. The limit of continaonB senrioe 
was pat at two years by Mr. Jefferson. 
' Hening's Statutes at Large, iz., 209. ' See post, yoL iiL, 73. 


sembly. On June 20, he asked for an investigation 
of the matters which had been alleged against him. 
The inquiry was conducted in the presence of the 
Senate, and was a most impressive scene. After 
hearing several witnesses. Colonel Lee was heard in 
his own defence. A member present, who classed 
himself among Colonel Lee's opponents, thus speaks 
of this speech : ^ " Certainly no defence was ever 
made with more graceful eloquence, more manly 
firmness, equalness of temper, serenity, calmness, 
and judgment, than this very accomplished speaker 
displayed on this occasion." The result was a tri- 
umphant vindication. The House at once voted its 
thanks to Colonel Lee for " his faithful services " to 
his country, as one of its delegates to Congress, and 
the venerable George Wythe, the Speaker, in ren- 
dering them, added his personal testimony to the 
patriotic zeal which had marked his course,* and 
was so overcome with feeling as to shed tears in 
making his address. 

So complete was the triumpji of Colonel Lee that, 
upon George Mason's declining to act as a delegate 
a few days afterward, he was elected in his place in 
the face of the act just passed.^ The Assembly 
elected John Page, Dudley Digges, John Blair, Bar- 
tholomew Dandridge, Thomas Walker, Nathaniel 
Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., and David Jameson, 
members of the Executive Council. 

Before entering on his second term Governor 
Henry retired a few days to his home, to arrange 
his private matters. The Journal shows his absence 
from June 20, to July 2. It was during this visit, 

^ Colonel John Banister. Bland papen, i., 58. ' Journal, 84. 

' Jonmal, 94. 


doubtless, that he addressed Dorothea, daughter of 
Nathaniel West Dandridge, his neighbor, as in a 
letter of Colonel William Christian, dated August 
12, his marriage to her is refeiTed to as soon to come 



Vigorons Measures of British Ministry. — ^Plan of Campaign. — Bat- 
tle of Saratoga. — ^Battle of Brandywine. — Occupation of Phila- 
delphia. — Treaty with France. — ^Effect in England. — ^Death of 
the Earl of Chatham. — Serious E£feot in America of the Depre- 
ciation of the Currency. — ^Proclamation of GoTemor Henry. — 
His Effort to Sustain Public Credit. — To Recruit the Army. — 
To Protect the Coast. — Correspondence with Washington. — ^At- 
tempt to Engage GoTemor Henry in Plot to Supersede Wash- 
ington. — His Patriotic Conduct. 

The second term, upon which Governor Henry 
now entered^ was the period in which the successful 
issue of the Revolution was assured. The memorable 
events which were crowded into it not only made 
certain the independence of the United States, but 
secured the Mississippi as their western limit, thus 
opening the way for their subsequent advance to 
the Pacific Ocean. Nor were they less marked in 
their effect upon Europe. Through the French al- 
liance American ideas were transported to France. 
But mixed there with infidelity, liberty soon turned 
into license, and the French Revolution afterward 
burst forth with a fury which alarmed, while it 
shocked, the civilized world. 

The British Ministry, deeply chagrined that its 
army and navy had not reduced America to sub- 
jection, detennined on more vigorous measures. In 
February, 1777, Lord George Germaine, the minister 
having charge of American affairs, introduced a bill 


for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and 
the arrest of all pereons suspected of treason or 
piracy, crimes which were imputed to those resist- 
ing the British authority on land and sea. This 
bill, though resisted by the minority, who still stood 
nobly for America, was passed in both houses by 
the usual ministerial majority. Its object doubtless 
was to intimidate, but it utterly failed of its mark. 
R H. Lee gave expression to the feeling with which 
it was received in America, when referring to it in 
his letter to Governor Henry, of May 6, he said : 
" It is an acrimonious and foolish display of tyr- 
anny." The contempt felt for it on the land was 
shared by the gallant sailors who harassed British 
commerce on the sea, and found friendly ports for 
their prizes on the coast of France. 

The British forces serving in America were in- 
creased to 48,000,^ and a plan was adopted for the 
campaign of 1777, which was well calculated to 
subdue the New England States ; and when this 
was accomplished, it was believed the others would 
be easily subjected in detail. The plan determined 
on was to send an army from Canada, which should 
march down the course of the Hudson, and unite 
at Albany with a force to be sent up the river 
from New York. This united army, having thus 
cut off the Eastern from the other States, was to de- 
vote itself to the work of subjugating New Eng- 
land. The army under Washington was in the 
meantime to be detained near Philadelphia by a 
demonstration in force against that city. The army 
from Canada was entrusted to the accomplished 
Burgoyne, who, vnth Germaine and the King, had 

> So stated in the Parliamentary debates. 


arranged the plan, and who, besides a picked body 
of regulars and German mercenaries, was lai'gely re- 
enforced by Canadians and Indians. His army was 
estimated at between 8,000 and 10,000 men. It 
was the employment of these Indians which occa- 
sioned the eloquent denunciation of the ministry by 
Burke and Chatham, in which the latter declared 
that^ " such a mode of warfare was in his opinion a 
contamination, a pollution of our national character, 
a stigma which all the waters of the rivers Dela- 
ware and Hudson would never wash away; it 
would rankle in the breast of America, and sink so 
deep into it that he was almost certain they would 
never forget nor forgive the horrid injury." 

This employment, instead of aiding the invasion, 
went far toward effecting its defeat. Burgoyne in- 
deed attempted to impress upon the Indians the ne- 
cessity of waging war upon principles of civilization, 
but in order to intimidate the Americans, he issued 
a proclamation denouncing woe upon all persisting in 
rebellion, and threatening them vnth the horrors of 
Indian warfare. This, instead of intimidating, 
aroused the indignation of the people he invaded, 
and caused them to put forth every effort to destroy 
his army. Burgoyne marched from St. John June 16, 
1777, and at first met vnth success, driving before 
him the weak forces posted along the lakes. But 
his triumphant career was soon checked. St. Leger, 
sent by him to reduce Fort Stanwix, was forced to 
retreat after abandoning his stores, and a large 
force sent under Colonel Baum to capture some 
provisions collected by the Americans at Benning- 
ton, was signally routed, August 16, by a body of 

> Hansard : ParliamentaTy Histoiy, zix., 4S9. 



militia ander General Stark. It was in reference I 
to this victory that Governor Henry, \vith a noble ' 
spirit, wrote to Richard Hemy Lee, September 12, 
1777: "I rejoice over our success over Burgoyne, 
and I rejoice because the New England men had 80 
great a share in it. For a malevolent set are contio- 
ually endeavoring to spread jealousys of these our , 
honest, best, and most faithfid allys. In proportion 
as I hear them traduced, my esteem for them in- 
creases. I hope now we shall hear no more to their i 
prejudice. Indeed I am not a judge how far they 
have lately complyed with the requisitions of Con- 
gresB, but only speak of them aa they stood when I 
was a member." 

On August 19, General Schuyler, who had been 
in command of the Northern army opposing Bur- 
goyne, was displaced by Congress, and General Gates 
was appointed in his atead. At his earnest solicita- 
tion, the army under Washington was weakened by 
sending him the splendid rifle coi-ps commanded by 
Colonel Daniel Morgan, composed lai^ly of Scotch- 
Irish from the valley of Virginia. Washington also 
furnished him with part of hie artillery. General 
Gates took command of a fine army of upward of 
18,000 men, including militia, while Burgoyne's 
forces had been reduced to about 6,000 by the de- 
sertion of the Canadians and Indians, and bis sup- 
plies had become so nearly exhausted that he was 
forced to fight or retreat. General Clinton had left 
New York with the purpose of reducing the posts 
on the Hudson, and making a junction with Bur- 
goyne ; but the delay in starting and the difiiculty of 
reducing the posts so retarded him, that Burgoyne 
despaired of timely aid from that source. Under 


these circumstances the famous battle of October 7, 
1777, was fought near Saratoga, which resulted in a 
complete victory for the Americans, and was fol- 
lowed on October 17, by the suiTender of Bur- 
goyne's army. In this battle Morgan's corps ren- 
dered great service. It was opposed by the right 
wing of the British, led by the gallant General 
Fraser, the favorite of his army. Morgan, noticing 
the influence of this officer in the battle, pointed 
him out to one of his riflemen, who brought him 
down with a shot, and the confusion which ensued 
was decisive of the battle. It is related of Bur- 
goyne that when he was afterward introduced to 
Colonel Morgan, he grasped his hand and said: 
"Sir, you command the finest regiment in the 

So important in its results was this victory that 
the battle has been included by Creasy among his 
"The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World," as se- 
curing American independence. 

While these important events were taking place 
in the North, the army under Washington was not 
idle. In the spring General Howe, with a greatly 
superior force, had vainly endeavored to draw Wash- 
ington into battle, and had finally withdrawn from 
New Jersey to New York From that city in Au- 
gust he embarked with 18,000 troops for Chesapeake 
Bay. Sailing up the bay he landed at the head of 
Elk and advanced toward Philadelphia. Wash- 
ington, with an army of only 11,000 men, threw 
himself across Howe's path, and fought the battle 
of Brandywine, September 11, in which, while de- 
livering a heavy blow to his antagonist, he was 
forced to leave him master of the field. Then fol- 


lowed the occupation of Philadelphia by the British, ; 
September 27, and the spirited attack upon Howe 
at Germantown, October 4, which, but for the con- 
fiieion produced by a fog, would have resulted iu a , 
brilliant victory for the Americana, and which pre* i 
vented Howe from attacking Washington during the > 
ensuing fall and winter — a winter memorable for the 
sufferings of the American army at Valley Forge, 
and the plot to supersede Waehington, known as the 
Conway cabal. As the Virginia troops composed a 
large part of Washington's army, they were en- 
gaged in these several battles, and won great dls- i 
tinction by their valor and soldierly conduct. 

The effect of these military operations in Europe I 
was most important. On September 26, 1776, Con- 
gress hail appointed Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, 
and Thomas Jefferson commissioners to the Court of 
France, charged with the duty of negotiating a treaty 
with that kingdom. Mr. Jefferson declining the ap- 
pointment, Arthur Lee was substituted in his stead. 
Deane and ]jee were already in Europe, and were 
joined by Franklin in December. His appointment 
was most fortunate. His reputation as a philosopher 
preceded him, and his simple manners, strong sense, 
and charming wit made him an object of general 
admiration, and greatly added to the popularity of 
the cause he represented ; a cause which had already 
excited the sympathy of the French people. The 
commissioners were not publicly received, but, 
against the protest of Loi-d Stormont, the English 
Minister, they were allowed to reside near the Court, 
and assistance was seCretly given to the American 
cause. But when news of the capture of Ticon- 
deroga, the victorious march of Borgoyne toward 


Albany, and the occupation of Philadelphia by 
Howe, reached Paris, the conduct of the French 
Court suddenly changed. American privateers were 
detained in port, the American agent concerned in 
fitting them out was thrown into the Bastile, the 
supplies previously furnished were stopped, and the 
English Minister was assured that the treaties be- 
tween Great Britain and France would be faithfully 
observed. The American cause was believed to be 
lost both in England and on the Continent, and it is 
charged by the English historian. Creasy, that the 
American commissioners endeavored to open com- 
munications with the British Ministry, while they, 
in their elation, refused to listen to any overtures of 
accommodation. This statement is probably incor- 
rect, but it is beyond doubt that they found the 
French Court indisposed to commit itself, under the 
fear that American independence could not longer be 
maintained by American arms. 

On December 4, 1777, a special messenger brought 
the commissioners intelligence of the battles of Ger- 
mantown and Saratoga. Upon its being communi- 
cated to the French Court, it at once determined the 
King to take the step so long desired by his people. 
On the 6th the commissioners were informed that 
France was ready to acknowledge the independence 
of the United States, and to enter into treaties of 
commerce and alliance. These were signed on Feb- 
ruary 6, 1778, but were kept secret till March, in 
order that preparation might be made for the open 
breach with England which their promulgation was 
sure to make. Information of the signing of the 
treaties was conveyed immediately, however, to his 
Government by the British Minister at Paris, and 


the Ministry at once set to work to prevent, if pos- 
eible, the union of America with the hereditary 
enemy of England. Keeping the information con- 
veyed from Paris secret, Lord North, on February 
19, agreeable to previous notice, introduced in the 
House of Commons conciliatory propositions, which 
abandoned all the pretensions of the Government 
toward America, on condition that the United States 
should give up independence and resume their rela- 
tions as colonies, and provided for commissioners 
to convey these proposals to Congress and to the 
several State Legislatures. 

In his speech the Minister declared that he had al- 
ways been opposed to taxing America. It was said 
by one person present that " a dull melancholy silence 
for some time succeeded to this speech. Astonish- 
ment, dejection, and fear overclouded the whole 
assembly. It was generally concluded that some- 
thing more extraordinary and alarming had hap< 
pened than yet appeared, which was of force to 
produce such an apparent change in measures, prin- 
ciples, and arguments." ^ 

The mystery was soon solved, for on February 
28, Edward Gibbon wrote to a friend : " It ia 
positively asserted, both in private and in Parlia- 
ment, and not contradicted by ministers, that on the 
fifth of this month, a treaty of commerce, which 
naturally leads to war, was signed at Paris with the 
independent States of America. Yet there still 
remains a hope that England may obtain the pref- 
erence. The two greatest countries in Europe are 
fairly running a race for the favour of America." ' 

'Hanuid: PkrliametiluT HUlory, xlx., 767. 
* Diplomnc; of United States, L, 37. 


In April a large French squadron under the 
Count d'Estaing sailed from Toulon for the Ameri- 
can coast, to aid the United States, and to counter- 
act the influence of the British commissioners, then 
about to sail with the conciliatory propositions. 

On April 7, the Duke of Richmond moved in the 
House of Lords an address to the King, advising 
that the British forces be withdrawn from America, 
and conciliation be effected with the United States ; 
in effect acknowledging their independence. 

The Earl of Chatham had acted with the Rocking- 
ham party in opposing the measures of the Ministry 
toward America, but the dismemberment of the 
British Empire, which he had made so glorious, 
was abhorrent to his soul ; and that such a dismem- 
berment should be effected by France, her heredi- 
tary enemy, so signally humbled by him, added in- 
tolerable poignancy to the thought. Upon notice 
of the motion of his fellow- Whig, he arose from his 
sick bed and insisted on being carried to the House. 
A memorable scene occurred.^ 

Lord Chatham came into the House of Lords, 
leaning upon two friends, lapped up in flannel, pale 
and emaciated. Within his large wig little more 
was to be seen than his aquiline nose and his pene- 
trating eye. He looked like a dying man; yet 
never was seen a figure of more dignity ; he ap- 
peared like a being of a superior species. 

He rose from his seat with slowness and difficulty, 
leaning on his crutches, and supported under each 
arm by his two friends. He took one hand from 
his crutch and raised it, casting his eyes toward 
heaven, and said, " I thank God that I have been 

* HanBard : Parliamentary History, xix., 1030. 



enabled to come here this day to perform my duty, 
and to speak on a subject which has so deeply im- 
pressed my mind. I am old and infirm — have one 
foot, more than one foot in the grave — I am risen 
from my bed to stand up in the cause of my country 
— ^perhaps never again to speak in this House!" 
The purport of this speech is well known. The rev- 
erence — the attention — the stillness of the House 
was most affecting ; if anyone had dropped a hand- 
kerchie:^ the noise would have been heard. 

At first he spoke in a veiy low and feeble tone ; 
but as he grew warm, his voice rose, and was as 
harmonious as ever ; oratorical and affecting, perhaps 
more than at any former period, both from his own 
situation, and from the importance of the subject 
on which he spoke. He gave the whole history of 
the American dispute ; of all the measures to which 
he had objected ; and all the evils which he had 
prophesied in consequence of them ; adding at the 
end of each, " And so it proved ! " 

In one part of his speech he ridiculed the appre- 
hension of an invasion, and then recalled the re- 
membrance of former invasions. " Of a Spanish in- 
vasion, of a French invasion, of a Dutch invasion, 
many noble lords may have read in history, and 
some lords [looking keenly at one who sat near 
him] may perhaps remember a Scotch invasion." 

While the Duke of Richmond was speaking (in 
reply) he looked at him with attention and com- 
posure ; but when he rose up to answer, his strength 
failed him and he fell backward. He was instantly 
supported by those who were near him, and every- 
one pressed around him with anxious solicitude. His 
youngest son, the Honorable James Pitt, was par- 


ticalarly active and efiBcient in assisting his venerable 
father, though the youth was not more than seven* 
teen or eighteen years of age. Lord Chatham was 
carried to Mr. Sergent'a house in Downing Street 
From thence he was carried home to Hayes, and put 
to bed. He never rose again. Thus tragically 
passed off the stage the greatest of England's ora- 
tors, and one of the grandest characters in history. 

The motion of the Duke of Richmond was lost by 
a vote of 33 ayes to 50 noes. And the commission- 
ers sailed only to fail utterly in their mission. 

During this interesting period Governor Henry 
was a conspicuous figure, and acted an important 
part He took the oath of office July 2, 1777, and 
was at once confronted by what proved to be the 
greatest danger which threatened the patriot cause 
during the Revolution, the depreciation of the paper 
money, State and Continental, which, unsupported by 
taxation, had been relied on to conduct the war. 
He had favoi-ed taxation to sustain the credit of the 
State,' but the legislature was afraid to impose it 
upon a people already heavily burdened, and con- 
tented itself by requiring paper money to be taken 
as the equivalent of specie. He had endeavored to 
use tobacco and other articles which could be ex- 
ported, as a basis of credit, but the British blockade 
had prevented this effort from being efEectual. He 
now found that the thirst for gain was inducing 
men to engross articles of prime necessity, with a 
view to a profit from the further depreciation of the 
currency, and that the Tories, open or disguised, 
were preventing the recruiting for the ranks by false 
rumors, which had also the effect of further ^^re- 

' LeCtei of P. Haniy to R. H. Lea. 


dating the currency, whose value depended on suc- 
cess. In order to prevent the disastrous results 
which were threatened, he issued on July 8, the 
following proclamation : 

"Whereas I have been credibly informed that 
several persons are going about in aifferent parts of 
this State — some of them in the guise of officers— en- 
grossing the commodities of the country at the most 
extravagant prices, with a view, as is supposed, of 
depreciating our currency ; and discouraging the peo- 
ple, moreover, by their false and injurious reports of 
the condition of our army, under his Excellency, 
General Washington, and of the general posture of 
our affairs, from engaging in the American ser- 
vice ; to the end, therefore, that all such persons 
may be vigilantly inspected, and particulany that 
they may be obliged to give that security for their 
friendship, which the act of the last session requires 
of all persons coming within the State from any 
other ox the United States ; and that such of them as 
may appear to violate another act of a former ses- 
sion by discouraging people from enlisting as sol- 
diers, may be brought to condign punishment ; I 
have thought proper, by and with the advice of 
Council, to issue this my proclamation, hereby re- 
questing all officers, both civil and military, within 
tnis Commonwealth, and other subjects thereof, to 
be aiding and assisting in this business, as they ten- 
der the welfare of their country, and as they shall 
answer the contrary at their peril. 

" Given under my hand this 8th day of July, in 
the 2d year of the commonwealth, Annoqtie Do- 
mini 1777. „ p Hkney." 

At the October session, 1777, the Assembly 
yielded to the advice of the Governor and imposed 


a tax for the redemption of the paper money issued 
by the State.^ It had the effect of staying in a 
measure the catastrophe to the currency which was 
surely approaching. 

On November 22, 1777, Congress recommended to 
the several legislatures that they fix the prices of 
provisions, and thus prevent the extortion which was 
so injurious to the service. Accordingly the Vir- 
ginia Assembly passed an act authorizing the seizure 
of all provisions in excess of what was needed for 
the consumption of families, the value to be fixed 
by three freeholders.' 

The Governor lost no time in f oi-warding the new 
troops raised for the Continental army. On the day 
he entered upon his second term, he gave the neces- 
sary orders for raising the ten companies of artiUery 
voted by the Assembly, and on July 8, he ordered 
Colonel George Gibson to march with the first bat- 
talion of fresh troops, which was now ready. This 
gallant officer had been sent in May, 1776, by Gen- 
eral Charles Lee, to New Orleans, and had obtained 
from the Spanish Governor there twelve hundred 
pounds of powder, which his associate. Captain 
William Lynn, had safely conveyed up the rivers to 
Wheeling, while he had returned by the ocean. The 
appointment of colonel was now given him as a re- 
ward for this service.' 

The Executive Journal, and correspondence of 
the Governor during his second term, attest his un- 
tiring energy in keeping up the State's quota of Con- 
tinental troops. In this the Executive was heartily 

> Hening: Statates at Large, iz., 849. 

« Ibid., ix., 886. 

' House Journal for June 28, 1777, p. 147. 

lu "ao uiueieu Liiat a,UUU 1 

dition to tlie State's quota, 
1, 1779.^ Besides this, force 
defence of the State oo its 

In August, 1777, while ■ 
Hanover, donbtless making 
approaching marriage, the 1 
ofE the Vii^inia coast with 
A messenger was at once dei 
Governor to Willianaaburg, 
panies of militia were imme< 
placed under the command 
Nelson. The call was respo 
Among the troops which oS 
composed of the students a1 
College, commanded by Rev. i 
dent of the college and after 
of Virginia. 

While the destination of tl 
the Governor took every prei 
coast, and ordered the arrest i 
threatened portion of the Sta 


act was passed to indemnify the Governor and 
Council therefor.^ 

The fleet, after entering the bay, steered north- 
ward without touching on Virginia soil, and the 
British forces landed at the Head of Elk prepara- 
tory to their march upon Philadelphia. In obe- 
dience to a call from Congress, a third part of the 
militia of Prince William, Loudon, Fairfax, Cul- 
pepper, Fauquier, Berkeley, Dunmore,* and Fred- 
erick Counties were ordered to rendezvous at Fred- 
rickto^vn, Md., and report to General Washington, 
and they aided him in his subsequent engagements 
with Howe. 

The efforts of Governor Henry to aid General 
Washington in the campaign which followed the 
landing of the British, and the quality of his pa- 
triotism, cannot be better illustrated than in the 
following letter : 

"Williamsburg, October 29, 1777. 

" Sir : The Kegiment of Artillery commanded by 
Colonel Charles Harrison is yet in tnis State. They 
have been detained here, under leave of Congress, to 
do Duty at Portsmouth and York, near which 
Places the Enemy's Ships of War have been long 
hovering. At present, seven Men of War & three 
large Transports or provision Vessels, are in and 
near Hampton Boad. The Troops of the State 
are so few, that the Defence of our maritime 
places will be precarious in the absence of that 

" Militia must in that Case be chiefly depended on, 
and their Skill in managing Cannon promises noth- 
ing effectual. But, reflecting on the necessity there 

1 Heniog : Statutes at Large, iz., 873. * Afterward Shennadoah. 


may be of re-enforcing the army under your Excel- 
lency's Command, I trouble you with this, entreat- 
ing you will be pleased to tell me whether that 
Regiment will be a desirable aid to you. 

'' If it is, perhaps Inoculation ought to be set about 

" With tne highest Regard I am, 

" Sir, 
" Your mo. obd* Hble Serv*, 

" P. Henby. 

** To His Ezoellenoj, General Washington, at Head-Qnarten. 
"Per Express." 

The nobility of this letter was equalled by the 
following reply received from Washington. The 
two letters show that the friendship of these men 
was that of kindred spirits. 

•* WHTTElCABaH, 18 NoY». 1777. 

" Deab Sir : I shall beg leave to refer you to a 
letter of mine, which accompanies this, and of the 
same date,^ for a general account of our situation 
and wants. The design of this is only to inform 
you, and with great truth I can do it, strange as it 
may seem, that the aimy which I have had under 
my immediate command, has not, at any one time 
since General Howe's landing at the Head of Elk, 
been equal in point of numbers to his. In ascer- 
taining this, I do not confine myself to Continental 
troops, but comprehend militia. The disaffected 
and lukewarm in this state, in whom unhappily it 
too much abounds, taking advantage of the distrac- 
tion in the government, prevented those vigorous 
exertions, which an invaded State ought to have 
yielded ; and the short term, for which their militia 
was drawn out, expiring before others could be got 
in, and before the Maryland militia (which, by the 

* In that letter he declined Colonel Harrison's regiment for the preaent 


by, were few in number, and did not join till after 
the battle of Brandywine") came up, our numbers 
kept nearly at a stand, ana I was left to fight two 
battles, in order if possible to save Philadelphia, 
with less numbers than composed the anny of my 
antagonist, whilst the world has given us at least 
double. This impression, though mortifying in 
some points of view, I have been obliged to encour- 
age, because, next to being strong it is best to be 
thought so by the enemy ; and to this cause prin- 
cipally I think is to be attributed the slow move- 
ments of General Howe. 

" How different the case in the northern depart- 
ment ! There the States of New York and New 
England resolving to crush Burgoyne, continued 
pouring in their ti'oops, till the surrender of that 
army, at which time not less than fourteen thousand 
militia, as I have been informed, were actually in 
General Gates's camp, and those composed, for the 
most part, of the best yeomanry in the country, well 
armed, and in many instances supplied with provi- 
sions of their own carrying. Had the same spirit 
pervaded the people oi tnis and the neighboring 
itates, we might before this time have had General 
Howe nearly m the situation of General Burgojoie, 
with this difference, that the former would never 
have been out of reach of his ships, whilst the lat- 
ter increased his danger every step he took, having 
but one retreat in case of a disaster, and that blocked 
up by a respectable force. 

" My own difficulties, in the course of the cam- 
paign, have been not a little increased by the extra 
aid of Continental troops, which the gloomy pros- 
pects of our affairs in tlie north, immediately after 
the reduction of Ticonderoga, induced me to spare 
from this army. But it is to be hoped, that all 
will yet end well. If the cause is advanced, indif- 
ferent it is to me where or in what quarter it hap- 


pens. The winter season, with the aid of our 
neighbours, may possibly bring some important 
event to pass. 

" 1 am, sincerely and respectfully, 

" dear Sir, &a 

" George Washhtghon. 

. *' To Patbick Henbt, Esq., 

Governor of Virginia,*^ 

At the very time that Washington was writing 
this letter rejoicing in the victory of Gates over 
Burgoyne, for the accomplishment of which he had 
reduced his own forces and prevented his army from 
gaining a victory over Howe, General Gates was 
plotting to supersede him as commander-in-chief. 
One of his accomplices undertook the task of win- 
ning Governor Henry to their cause, and sounded 
him by the following letter sent without a signa- 

** YOBKTOWN, Jannazy 18**, 1778. 

" Dear Sir : The common danger of our country 
first brought you and me together. I recollect with 
pleasure the influence of your conversation and elo- 
quence upon the opinions of this country, in the 
beginning of the present controversy. You firet 
taught us to shake off our idolatrous attachment to 
royalty, and to oppose its encroachments upon our 
liberties, with our very lives. By these means you 
saved us from ruin. The independence of America 
is the offspring of that liberal spirit of thinking <fe 
acting which followed the destruction of the scep- 
tres of kings, and the mighty power of Great 

" But, sir, we have only passed the Red Sea. A 
dreary wilderness is still before us, and unless a 
Moses or a Joshua are raised up in our behalf, we 
must perish before we reach the promised land. We 


have nothing to fear from our enemies on the way. 
General Howe, it is true has taken Philadelphia ; 
but he has only changed his prison. His dominions 
are bounded on all sides, by his out-sentries. Amer- 
ica can only be undone by herself. She looks up 
to her councils and arms for protection; but 
alas ! what are they ? Her representation in con- 
gress dwindled to only twenty-one members — her 
Adams — her Wilson — ^her Henry are no more 
among them. Her councils weak, and partial reme- 
dies applied constantly for universal diseases. Her 
army, what is it ? a major-^eneral belonging to it, 
called it a few days ago, m my hearing, a mob. 
Discipline unknown or wholly neglected. The 
quarter-master's and comissary's departments filled 
with idleness, ignorance, and peculation ; our hospi- 
tals crowded with six thousand sick, but half pro- 
provided with necessaries or accommodations, and 
more dying in them in one month, than perished in 
the field during the whole of the last campaign. 
The money depreciating, without any effectual 
measure being taken to raise it; the countiy dis- 
tracted with the Don Quixote attempts to ref- 
late the price of provisions; an artificial famine 
created by it, and a real one dreaded from it ; the 
spirit of the people failing through a more intimate 
acquaintance with the causes oi our misfortunes ; 
many submitting to General Howe ; and more wish- 
ing to do it, only to avoid the calamities which 
threaten our country. But is our case desperate ? 
by no means. We have wisdom, virtue, and 
strength enough to save us, if they could be called 
into action. The northern army has shown us what 
Americans are capable of doing, with a general at 
their head. The spirit of the southern army is no 
way inferior to the spirit of the northern. A 
Gates, a Lee, or a Conway, would in a few weeks 
render them an irresistible body of men. The last 


of the above officers has accepted of the new office 
of inspector-general of our army, in order to reform 
abuses ; but the remedy is only a palliative one. In 
one of his letters to a friend, he says, ^ a great and 
good God hath decreed America to be free— or the 
. . . and weak counsellors would have ruined 
her long ago. You may rest assured of each of the 
facts related in this letter. The author of it is one 
of your Philadelphia friends. A hint of his name, 
if found out by the handwriting, must not be men- 
tioned to your most intimate fnend. Even the let- 
ter must be thrown in the fire. But some of its 
contents ought to be made public, in order to 
awaken, enlighten, and alarm our country. I rely 
upon your prudence, and am dear sir, with^ my 
usual attachment to you and to our beloved inde- 
pendence, yours sincerely. 

** Hia Excellency P. Henry." 

The writer of this insidious letter had utterly 
mistaken the man to whom it was addressed. He 
was impervious to flatteiy, and his faith in Wash- 
ington, so far from being shaken, had ever con- 
tinued to strengthen. He at once enclosed the let- 
ter to General Washington with the following : 

" WiLLiAMSBUBO, February 20, 1778. 

" Dear Sir : You will no doubt, be surprised at 
seeing the enclosed letter, in which the encomiums 
bestowed on me are as undeserved, as the censures 
aimed at you are unjust. I am sorry there should 
be one man who counts himself my friend who is 
not yours. 

'' rerhaps I give you needless trouble in handing 
you this paper. The writer of it may be too insig- 
nificant to deserve any notice. If I knew this to be 
the case, I should not have intruded on your time. 


which is so precious. But there may possibly be 
some scheme or party foiming to your prejuaice. 
The enclosed leads to such a suspicion. Believe me, 
sir, I have too high a sense of the obligations Amer- 
ica has to you, to abet or countenance so unworthy 
a proceeding. The most exalted merit hath ever 
been found to attract envy. But I please myself 
with the hope, that the same fortitude and greatness 
of mind which have hitheiiio braved all the difficul- 
ties and dangers inseparable from your station, will 
rise superior to every attempt of the envious parti- 

'' I really cannot tell who is the writer of this let- 
ter, which not a little perplexes me. The hand- 
writing is altogether strange to me. 

" To give you the trouble of this gives me pain. 
It would suit my inclination better to give you some 
assistance in the great business of the war. But I 
will not conceal any thing from you by which you 
may be affected ; for I really think your personal 
welfare and the happiness of America are intimately 
connected. I beg you will be assured of that high 
regard and esteem, with which I am, dear sir, your 
affectionate fi'iend and very himible servant, 

"P. Henry. 

''His Ezcellenoy General Washington/' 

Not getting a reply promptly to this letter, and 
receiving some information which increased his anx- 
iety, Governor Henry wrote again to General 
Washington as follows : 

"Williamsburg, March 5^, 1778. 

" Dear Sir : By an express which Colonel Finnie 
sent to camp, I enclosed you an anonymous letter, 
which I hope got safe tj hand. I am anxious to 
hear something that will serve to explain the strange 
affair, which I am now informed is taken up re- 


specting you. Mr. Custis has just paid us a visit, 
and by him I learn sundry particulars concerning 
General Mifflin, that much surprised me. It is very 
hard to trace the schemes and windings of the ene- 
mies to America. I really thought that man its 
friend : however, I am too far from him to judge of 
his present temper. 

"while you face the armed enemies of our lib- 
erty in the field, and by the favour of God, have 
been kept unhurt, I trust your country will never 
harbour in her bosom the miscreant who would ruin 
her best supporter. I wish not to flatter ; but when 
arts, unworthy honest men, are used to defame and 
traduce you, I think it not amiss, but a duty, to as- 
sure you of that estimation in which the public hold 
you. Not that I think that any testimony I can 
bear is necessary for your support^ or private satis- 
faction ; for a bare recollection of what is past must 
give you sufficient pleasure in every circumstance of 
life. But I cannot help assuring you on this occa- 
sion, of the high sense of gratitude which all ranks 
of men in this your native country bear to you. 
It will give me sincerest pleasure to manifest my re- 

fards, and render my best services to you or youra 
do not like to make a parade of these things, and 
I know that you are not fond of it, however I hope 
the occasion will plead my excuse. 

"The assembly have, at length, empowered the 
executive here, to provide the Virginia troops serv- 
ing with you with clothes, &c. I am making {pro- 
vision accordingly, and hope to do something 
towards it. Every possible assistance from gov- 
ernment is afforded the commissary of provisions, 
whose department has not been attended to. It 
was taken up by me too late to do much. In- 
deed, the load of businesg devolved on me is too 
great to be managed well. A French ship, mount- 
ing thirty guns, that has been long chased by Eng- 


lish cruisers has got into Carolina, as I hear last 

" Wishing you all possible felicity, I am, my dear 

" Your very affectionate friend, 

" and very humble servant, 

"P. Hbnby. 

** Hifl Excellency GsmcBAL Washington." 

Before getting this last letter Washington wrote 
in reply to the previous one. 

** Vallbt Fobgb, 27 Ifazob, 1778. 

" Dear Sir : About eight days past I was hon- 
ored with your favor of the 20th ultimo. Your 
friendship, sir, in transmitting to me the anonymous 
letter you had received, lays me under the most 
grateful obligations; and it my acknowledgments 
can be due for anything more, it is for the polite 
and delicate terms m which you have been pleased 
to communicate the matter. 

" I have ever been happy in supposing that I had 
a place in your esteem, and the proof of it you have 
afforded on this occasion makes me peculiarly so. 
The favorable light in which you hold me is truly 
flattering ; but I should feel much regret, if I thought 
the happiness of America so intimately connected 
with my personal welfare, as you so obligingly seem 
to consider it. All I can say is, that she has ever 
had, and I trast she ever will have, my honest exer- 
tions to promote her interest. I cannot hope that 
my services have been the best ; but my heart tells 
me they have been the best that I could render. 

" That I may have erred in using the means in my 
power for accomplishing the objects of the arduous, 
exalted station with which I am honored, I cannot 
doubt ; nor do I wish my conduct to be exempted 
from I'eprehension farther than it may deserve. Er- 

liim as not iiossessiiig, at It 
caiulor and sincerity, though 
you should have been the r 
founded in motives of public 
only secret, insidious attemp 
to wound my reputation, j 
equally baae, cruel and un: 
ducted with as little frauknei 
views, perhaps, as personally 
sir with great esteem and reg 
friend, Ac. 

Before closing this the sec 
Henry was handed to Washii 
deeply touched by it even th 
far less restraint he at once ■? 


" Dear Sir : Just as I was 
ter of yesterday, your favor 
to hand. I can only thank ; 
of the most ondissembled gra 


deserve it. It is the highest reward to a feeling 
mind ; and happy are they who so conduct them- 
selves as to merit it. 

"The anonymous letter, with which you were 
pleased to favor me, was wiitten by Dr. Rush, so far 
as I can judge from a similitude of hands. This man 
has been elaborate and studied in his professions of 
regard for me ; and long since the letter to you. 
My caution to avoid any thing, which could injure 
the service, prevented me from communicating, but 
to a veiy few of my friends, the intrigues of a fac- 
tion, which I know was formed against m.e, since it 
might serve to publish our internal dissensions ; but 
their own restless zeal to advance their views has 
too clearly betrayed them, and make concealment 
on my part fruitless. I cannot precisely mark the 
extent of their views, but it appeared in general, 
that General Gates was to be exalted on the ruin 
of my reputation and influence. This I am author- 
ized to say, from undeniable facts in my own pos- 
session, from publications, the evident scope of 
which could not be mistaken, and from private de- 
tractions industriously circulated. General Mifflin, 
it is commonly supposed, bore the second part in 
the cabal ; and General Conway, I know, was a 
very active and malignant partisan; but I have 

food reasons to believe, that their machinations 
ave recoiled most sensibly upon themselves. With 
sentiments of great esteem and regard, I am, dear 
Sir, your affectionate humble servant,- 

" George Washington. 

" His Excellency Patrick Henrt, Ebq. 

'* Governor of Virffinia,^ 

The Conway Cabal, as it was called, died upon 
exposure, leaving Washington more strongly en- 
trenched in the hearts of his countrymen than be- 
fore. Washington never forgot this proof of 


friendship and esteem on the part of Governor 
Henry. It came at a time when it was impossible 
to know the extent of the plot which had been 
formed. But that besides several generals it em- 
braced some of the leading members of Congress, 
was believed at the time, and even the two Lees 
from Virginia were thought to be implicated. 



DistressiDg Condition of the Army. — ^Exertions of Governor Henry 
to Relieve It. — ^His Letter to Congress. — Alarming Letter from 
General Washington. — Governor Henry^s Efficient Action Re- 
lieves the Army at Valley Forge, and Prevents It from Disband- 
ing. — Important Actions of Congress in Aid of the Army. 
— Arrival of the Prench Minister and British Commissioners. — 
Attempt to Defeat the French Treaty. — Strong Feeling of Gover- 
nor Henry. — Letter to Richard Henry Lee. — Congress Declines 
the Britidi Proposals. — Attempt of Commissioners to Commu- 
nicate with Virginia Foiled. — The Aid of France Indispensable 
to American Success. — ^Indian Troubles. — ^Murder of Cornstalk. 
— Action of Governor Henry in Consequence. — Retaliation by 
the Indians. — Proposed Expedition Against Detroit 

During the winter of 1777-78 the subsistence of 
Washington's ai'my became a question of alarming 
importance. The failure of the Quartermaster and 
Commissaiy departments, as organized by Congress, 
to provide necessaries for the army came near de- 
stroying it. Congress itself never appeared more 
impotent, nor its members more neglectful of their 
duties, and at its sittings at York, in Pennsylvania, 
it was often difficult to secure a quorum. In order 
to meet the emergency, the Virginia Legislature 
at its fall session gave the Governor power to im- 
press the articles needed for the Virginia troops. 
He went to work so vigorously that he was able to 
send off a large supply of clothing by December 6, 
and to promise additional supplies in a short time.^ 

1 Letter to Washington, Deoember 6, 1777. Post, yol. iii., 12k 

tressiiig picture of the con 
wbicli required continued 
But the distress of the 
want oi clothing, The 
starving as well as of fret 
farmers carried their provi 
got British gold in prefei 
money.^ A letter from F. 
Committee of Congress ha' 
apprised Governor Henry 
of affairs, and his reply of 
not only his enei^ in mee 
fearlessness in pointing 01 
shortcominga It is as foil 

" Gentlemen : Francis 
lietter for the Committee 
visions filled me with Cone 
applied to the Deputy ( 
furnish some active persons 
Supply of Provisions to tl 
present Exigency. I was t 

fet none such immediately 
is Deputy to do the Busin 


or ten thousand Hogs & several thousand fine 
Beeves might have been had very lately in a few 
Counties convenient to the Camp. In order there- 
fore to avoid blending my Transactions with the 
Comraissaiy's, & to give Despatch & Efiicacy to the 
measure, I employea Abraham Hite, Thomas Hite, 
& James Barbour Esq". Gentlemen of Character, to 
purchase instantly Beef, or Pork, if Beef could not 
be had, to the amount of ten thousand pounds, & 
drive it to Camp in the most expeditious manner, 
and advanced them the Cash. I have also directed 
Colonel Simpson to seize two thousand Bushels of 
Salt on the Eastern Shore, & send it to the Head of 
Elk for the grand army, & to reserve a thousand 
more to answer further orders that may become 

" A Galley is also ordered to carry 600 Bushels 
aloDg the Western Shore to Elk for the same pur- 
poses. In the article of flour I have not meddled, 
thinking from M'. Lee's Letter that it was not 
wanting. By these Several Steps, the best which 
in the sudden Exigency could be taken, I hope a 
temporary Supply may be obtained. 

"But Gentlemen 1 cannot forbear some Reflec- 
tions on this Occasion, which I beg you will be 
pleased to lay before Congress as the Sentiments of 
the Executive Body of this State. It is with the 
deepest Concern that the Business of Supplying 
Provisions for the grand army, is seen to fall into 
a State of uncertamty & Confusion. And while 
that Executive hath been more than once called 
upon to make up for Deficiencys in that Depart- 
ment, no Reform is seen to take place. AJtho' a 
great Abundance of Provisions might have been 
procured from Virginia; yet no Animadversions 
that T know of, have been made upon the Conduct 
of those whose Business it was to forward it to the 
Army. In this Situation of things Intelligence is 


given to me that from this State it is expected most 
of the Supplies must be drawn. What may be in- 
ferred from this, I do not well know. If any kind 
of Superintendance or Controul over the Com- 
missanate is meant, Congress will please to recollect 
that the Gentlemen in that Office are not amenable 
to me. If it is expected that friendly Assistance 
should be given, 1 am happy in saying this has 
been anticipated. Large loans of Flour, Meat and 
Salt have been made from time to time to great 
amount, nor will they be withheld but from the 
most absolute necessity. But I earnestly desire that 
it may be understood and remembered, once for all, 
that the Executive power here has nothing to do 
with the Commissary's Business. That it holds it- 
self guiltless of all the mischiefs which in future 
may aiise from Delinquency in that office. 

" It will indeed be unworthy the character of a 
Zealous American to. entrench himself within the 
strict line of Official duty, and there quietly behold 
the starving and dispersion of the American Army. 
The Genius of this Country is not of that Cast. 

" I do not wish to avoia any Labour which may 
serve the general Interest and which cannot be 
executed better by others. But I have the Mortifi- 
cation to know that the present business I have 
directed will be executed with great Loss to the 
Public. The pressing occasion puts the price of 
meat &c. in the power of wicked, avaricious and 
disaffected men. The value of money will be more 
and more lessened, the means of supporting pub- 
lic Credit counteracted and defeated. I will not 
enumerate further the Evils which must follow 
from suffering Business of this vast import to re- 
main in the Channel where it is now goin^. Let it 
suffice to say that this Country abounds witn the pro- 
visions for which the army is said to be almost starv- 
ing, particularly that part of it nearest the Camp. 


" The Executive has no authority over or Connex- 
ion with the Commissariate. The temporary supply 
ordered to Camp concludes the Interference wnich 
is made in that Business, & is kept as a distinct and 
Separate Transaction. But if in the Course of fu- 
ture events it should become at any time necessary 
that the Commissariate should receive any aid with- 
in the line of the Executive power of this State, 
it will be afforded with the gi'eatest pleasure — ^yet 
in such a case it is much to be wished that as 
early notice as possible may be given of such neces- 

"The pain which Government feels on this 
occasion, & which is generally diffused throughout 
this State, for the melancholy, the perilous situation 
of the American Army will be relieved when a 
Reform takes place in that Department, from mis- 
management in which have flowed Evils threatening 
the existence of American Liberty. 

"I beg leave Gentlemen to apologize for the 
Freedom of this Letter. Congress will please to be 
assured of the most perfect Kegard of every mem- 
ber of the Executive of Virginia. But that Body 
would be wanting in the Duty they owe to the 
great Council of America & to their Country, if they 
concealed any of their Sentiments on a Subject so 
alarming as the present The Honor and Credit of 
that great Council are conceived to be deeply con- 
cerned in rectifying what is wrong in these matters, 
and nothing but the highest Regard & most anxious 
Care to preserve that Honor from aspersion, should 
extort these painful observations from me. 

" I pray for the prosperity & Happiness of Con- 
gress as the Guardians of America, & with the 
greatest Esteem 

" I am Gentlemen, 

" Your very Humble & most obedt. Servant, 

"P. Henry." 


The supplies forwarded from Virginra were soon 
exhausted, and on February 19, General Washing- 
ton wrote Governor Henry, giving an alarming ac- 
count of his condition. He said, " For several days 
past we have experienced little less than a famine 
in camp, and have had much cause to dread a gen- 
eral mutiny and dispersion. Our future prospects 
are, if possible, still worse. The magazines laid up, 
so far as my information reaches, are insignificant, 
totally incompetent to our necessities, and from 
every appearance there has been heretofore so 
astonishing a deficiency in providing, that unless 
the most vigorous and effectual measures are at 
once everywhere adopted, the language is not too 
strong to declare that we shall not be able to make 
another campaign." But Washington knew well 
that, so far as it depended on the Governor of Vir- 
ginia, this ignominious result would never be per- 
mitted. He added: "I address myself to you; 
convinced that our alarming distresses will engage 
your most serious consideration, and that the full 
force of that zeal and vigour you have manifested 
upon every other occasion, will now operate for our 
relief, in a matter that so nearly affects the very 
existence of our contest" 

This letter caused Governor Henry again to exert 
his utmost energy to sustain Washington's army. 
He at once, in accordance with the General's sug- 
gestion, issued his proclamation informing the 
people of the needs of the army, and urging them 
immediately to put up and feed as many of their 
cattle as could be spared, that they might be driven 
to the army in May, June, and July.^ 

» Executive Jonmal for 1777-8, p. 323. 


But he did not stop with this. He adopted meas- 
ures for instant relief. Realizing the utter inefficiency 
of the purchasing agent appointed by Congress, he 
selected John Hawkins, a man in every way fitted 
for the business, and by his personal influence in- 
duced him to accept the position, for which he sup- 
plied him with money, and then reported his action 
to Congress for their approval. Mr. Hawkins was 
ordered by him, in the meantime, " to engage and for- 
ward with the utmost despatch to the army, as much 
beef and bacon as their wants may require." The 
following letter to Richard Henry Lee, in Congress, 
shows to what a pitch Governor Henry was aroused. 

" W«BUBGH, Apl 7^ 1778. 

" Your letter from Belleview came to hand, my 
dear sir, by the last post, & I assure you I wish all 
your letters may be as long. As usual I am in 
great huriy, & seize a moment by this Messenger to 
tell you that the necessity of adopting vigorous 
measures in the Comissariate induced me to appoint 
Hawkins, over whom I exerted all my personal In- 
fluence, & with great difficulty got him to under- 
take the Business. He has given one-half his 
salary, which appears at first view large, to an able 
hand (R^. Morris) who is a fine accountant & man 
of Fortune. I am really shocked at the manage- 
ment of Congress in this Department. John Moore's 
appointment gave me the most painful feelings. 
Good God ! Our Fate committed to a man utterly 
unable to perform the task assigned him ! Raw, 
inexperienced, without weight, consequence or ac- 
quaintance with men or business ; called into action 
at a time when distinguished talent only can save 
an army from perishing. I tell you, & 1 grieve at 
it, Congress will lose the respect due but I 


forbear. Tis my business to exert all my powers 
for the Common Good. I must not be depended on 
for anything in that line if Hawkins is reiected by 
congress. If he is continued, pray supply nim witn 
plenty of money. He is really superior to any one 
m that way, & of established credit to any amount 
I've advanced money, & published repeated 
orders for the march of the new Levys, & on 
receipt of yours have addressed the continental 
Officers on the subject. But there is great Langor 
among them. IVe sought for good hands to set 
out on the recruiting Business you mention, & will 
make an effort, & by the success of that shall judge 
if any thing can be done. Gilmour, I think, ougnt 
to be dealt with, but the powers of the Executive 
will not reach so far as the seizing of papei-s. Tis 
indeed too much cramped. However will think 
further on the subject I am really so harrassed 
by the great load oi continental Business thrown on 
me lately, that I am ready to sink under my Burden, 
& have thoughts of taking that rest that will I doubt 
soon become necessary. For my strength will not 
suffice. You are again traduced oy a certain set who 
have drawn in others, who say that you are engaged 
in a scheme to discard General Washington. I know 
you too well to suppose you attempt anything not 
evidently calculated to serve the cause of Whiggism. 
To dismiss the General would not be so : ergo &c. 
But it is your fate to suffer the constant attacks of 
disguised Torys who take this measure to lessen you. 
Farewell my dear Friend. In praying for your 
welfare I pray for that of my country, to which 
your life and service are of the last moment. 

" I am in great Haste, 

'' y^ aff^, 

" p. Henby. 

*' To RiCHABD Henby Lbe, 

" ai Ccngreny 


If Colonel Lee was indeed implicated in the 
scheme to displace Washington,^ the latter portion 
of this letter must have been keenly felt, coming, 
as it did, from his warm personal friend. 

Mr. Hawkins entered upon the duties of Commis- 
sary, imposed upon him by Governor Henry, but did 
not live very long to demonstrate the wisdom of his 
appointment. That wisdom, however, is strikingly 
attested by Mr. Jefferson in a letter to the Gov- 
ernor, March 27, 1779, concerning the British pris- 
oners in Virginia, in which he writes : " I am mis- 
taken if, for the animal subsistence of the troops 
hitherto, we are not principally indebted to the 
genius and exertions of Hawkins, during the very 
short time he lived after his appointment to that 
department by your board. His eye immediately 
pervaded the State, it was reduced at once to a 
regular machine, to a system, and the whole put 
into movement and animation by the fiat of a com- 
prehensive mind." » 

Washington himself, however, took steps to apply 
the remedy needed to right the disordered depart- 
ments. He persuaded General Nathaniel Greene 
to accept the office of Quartermaster-General, and a 
change was also made in the Commissariat, and order 
and efficiency soon took the place of the confusion 
which had so long prevailed. The appointment of 
Baron Steuben as Inspector-General was also most 
fortunate, and in the spring of 1778, Washington 
entered upon a new campaign with his army bet- 
ter drilled than ever before. Beyond doubt, how- 

' That he was is asserted in the oorreepondence of Bayneval, the 

French commissioner. 

* Writings of JefFerson, i., 215* 


ever, " the zeal and vigor " of Governor Henry con* 
tributed largely to the continued existence of the 
American army during their bitter experience ai 
Valley Forge, if indeed he did not prevent its dis- 

During this period of privation an incident oc- 
curred which illustrated the regard of the Virginia 
Council for the personal comfort of Washington. 
On April 7, 1778, the following entry was made in 
the Journal : 

"The Board being credibly informed that his 
Excellency General Washington has been unsup- 

{)lied for some time past with many articles of 
iving, which custom & the great fatigues to which 
he is constantly exposed must make necessary to 
the preservation of his health, and considering that 
it may be impossible to provide these articles m the 
exhausted part of America where the army is at 
present fixed, do advise the Governor to direct the 
commissary of stores to procure a stock of good 
rum, wine, sugar and such other articles as his Ex- 
cellency may think needful, and send them on to 

The present was forwarded April 18, with a let- 
ter from the Governor, to which Washington re- 
sponded May 16, and after thanking him for the 
"agreeable present," he added, "It is now on its 
way from the Head of Elk ; when it arrives, I make 
no doubt, but it will find us in a humour to do it 
all manner of justice." 

The treaties of commerce and alliance with Louis 
XVI. were ratified by congress on May 4, 1778, 
and Gerard, the first French minister, arrived in 


July. In the meanwhile the three British com- 
missioners, Lord Carlisle, William Eden, and Gov- 
ernor Johnstone, arrived with the conciliatory offers 
of Parliament, and reaching Philadelphia June 6, 
they found Sir Henry Clinton, who had superseded 
Lord Howe, in the act of evacuating the city. 
They at once set to work to win congress from 
France, and did not hesitate to try bribery for the 
accomplishment of their purpose. 

Perhaps to no one in America was the news of the 
French alliance more grateful than to Governor 
Henry .^ He had predicted at the beginning of the 
strife that the causes which finally brought about that 
alliance would accomplish it, and upon this firm con* 
viction he had expressed himself willing to enter into 
the unequal conflict. The fulfilment of his prediction 
had been long delayed, and he saw the credit of the 
United States rapidly wasting away, and with its 
decay the chilling of that ardor which had kept up 
the army. He realized that the patriot cause was 
on the brink of an awful precipice, from which the 
French alliance only could save it. The idea of a 
return to any connection with Great Britain had 
become abhorrent to him, and he had no patience 
with the men who would listen for a moment to the 
proposals which involved an abandonment of inde- 
pendence. But we will let him express his feelings 
in his own nervous language. At the spring session 
of the Legislature he saw with pain that the oppo- 
sition to Richard Henry Lee was still strong, and 
regarding him as one of the ablest advocates of the 
patriot cause, he feared that the opposition to his 

1 See letter to him from Delegates in Congress announcing it. Girar- 
din, 277. 


re-election to congress was caused by the sympathy 
of some of his opponents with the British proposala 
He thereupon wrote him the following letter ; 

^' WiLLiAXSBUBG Jono 1S^\ 1778. 

"Mr DEAB Sir : Both your last letters came to 
hand to-day. I felt for you, on seeing the order in 
which the balloting placed the delegates in Con- 

fres& It is an effect of that rancorous malice, that 
as so long followed you, through that arduous 
path of duty which you have invariably travelled, 
since America resolved to resist her oppressors. Is 
it any pleasure to you, to remai*k, that at the same 
era in which these men figure against you, public 
spirit seems to have taken its flight from Virginia ? 
It is too much the case ; for the quota of our troops 
is not half made up, and no chance seems to remam 
for completing it. The Assembly voted three 
hundred and firtjr horse, and two thousand men, to 
be forthwith raised, and to join the grand army. 
Great bounties are offered, but I fear, the only ef- 
fect will be, to expose our State to contempt, for I 
believe no soldiers will enlist, especially in the in- 
fantry. Can you credit it ; no effort was made for 
supporting, or restoring public credit ! I pressed 
it warmly on some, but in vain. This is the reason 
we get no soldiers. We shall issue fifty or sixty 
thousand dollars in cash, to equip the cavalry, and 
their time is to expire at Christmas. I believe they 
will not be in the field before that time. Let not 
Congress rely on Virginia for soldiers. I tell you 
my opinion, thej will not be got here until a differ- 
ent spirit prevails. I look at the past condition of 
America, as at a dreadful precipice, from which we 
have escaped, by means of the generous French, to 
whom I \vill be everlastingly bound by the most 
heartfelt gratitude. But I must mistake matters, 
if some of those men who traduce you, do not pre- 


fer the offers of Britian. You will have a different 
game to play now with the commissioners. How 
comes Governor Johnstone there ? I do not see how 
it compoiis with his past life. Surely Congress 
will never recede from our French friends. Salva- 
tion to America depends upon our holding fast our 
attachment to them. I shall date our ruin from 
the moment that it is exchanged for anything Great 
Britian can say or do. She can never be cordial 
with us. Baffled, defeated, disgraced by her colo- 
nies, she will ever meditate revenge, we can find 
no safety but in her ruin, or at least in her extreme 
humiliation, which has not happened, and cannot 
happen until she is deluged with blood, or thoroughly 
purged by a revolution, which shall wipe from ex- 
istence the present king with his connexions, and 
the present